Don’t wait to get your Mammogram

Tanya Milton
Tanya Milton

There’s nothing quite like having peace of mind.

Just ask Tanya Milton.

Milton, 53, vice president and director of advertising for the Savannah Tribune, now has that peace of mind because she had a mammogram on Aug. 7, 2008. It was her first mammogram in eight years.

“When I went in for this, and they looked at my records and told me that it had been eight years since I had a mammogram, I was amazed,” Milton said.

Any doctor will tell you that waiting eight years between breast cancer screenings IS NOT a good idea. But Milton is one of the fortunate ones. After some initial drama, Milton found out that she was in the clear.

“I went and had my screening, and they told me they would call me either way,” said Milton, who is the mother of two children, ages 27 and 33. “A couple of days went by and I got no calls, so I thought I was probably in the clear.”

But then, she received a phone call asking her to come back into the doctor’s office.

“Wow. They thought they had detected something,” she said. “That made me really, really nervous. I went in immediately. I wanted to know.”

After waiting in an exam room for a few minutes, she learned the good news that all was well.

“I was so glad it was over and it was OK,” Milton said.

Milton said she wanted to tell her story because she doesn’t want others to wait so long to get a mammogram. And, she wanted to let people know about a program that can help uninsured or underinsured women pay for life-saving health services.

The Breast Test and More program, which is being piloted in Savannah and Macon, encourages women – particularly African American women – to take charge of their health by providing low-cost or no-cost mammography services through the local health department. The effort is a collaborate venture of the Georgia Department of Human Resources, the Centers for Disease Control, the African-American Health Information Resource Center at St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital and the Sister’s Network. The Breast Imaging Center at Memorial University Medical Center also participates in the Breast Test and More Program.

Milton said she was compelled to get a mammogram after seeing a press release about the program from Jewell Daniels, who runs a local marketing and consulting firm. As part of her job at the Savannah Tribune, she then attended a press conference that discussed the Breast Test and More Program. She learned that African American women who get breast cancer are more likely to die from the disease than white women and are less likely to survive for 5 years after diagnosis. Studies suggest that this disparity is because African American women often are diagnosed with breast cancer at a later stage and they receive treatment later after diagnosis.

“My message is this,” said Milton. “Please go and get a mammogram. I had no business waiting so long. I have two children, and one just got married. I want to be around for them for a long time.”

For more information on how you may obtain reduced-cost or free breast cancer screenings, contact the Chatham County Health Department at 356-2441.

This story was originally published in the Savannah Morning News Breast Cancer Resource Guide on October 17.

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