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3D Mammography Saved My Life, Says Sally Delaney

Patient Sally Delaney doctor“I just want to clean my house.” These are not words that you hear from many people, especially a woman who works full time and is busy with grandchildren. However, for Sally Delaney, this simple act would mean that life was back to normal.

Now, instead of going to work as Construction Projects Manager in the Physical Plant at UMass Amherst each day, completing home improvement projects at her Erving, MA home, and spending her free time enjoying her three young grandchildren, she is recovering from a bilateral mastectomy. And she’s not just recovering. Sally is advocating for herself – and for the 3D mammography that saved her life.

30 Years of Mammograms

Sally Delaney is the poster child for diligence when it comes to getting her mammograms. Every April for the past 30 years she visited Baystate Franklin Medical Center, greeted warmly by the team in the radiology department.

“I have to be an advocate for my own health. My mother passed away after losing a breast cancer battle at age 52, so I knew that there was a chance that not every annual appointment would end in good news” said Sally.

This past April, Sally’s mammogram seemed to be business as usual. Senior mammography technician Gail Verheyen spent some time with her as she went through the screening, making small talk and catching up on life. “The appointments really aren’t so bad; in fact, Gail can make them seem fun, as crazy as that sounds. The receptionists are stellar. The team there gives you their undivided attention and makes you feel like you are the most important person in the world. People matter here”.

3D Mammography Helps Detect Breast Cancer Early

One of the main differences between this and previous appointments was the 3D Mammography machine that Gail used to capture the images. Gail explained that this technology provides a sharper, more comprehensive look. It can also differentiate between potential abnormalities and the scar tissue Sally has as a result of her four previous biopsies. What the two women didn’t know as they discussed their weekend plans was that Sally had a cancerous tumor behind some of her scar tissue – a tumor that could have gone undetected by lesser technology.

3D mammography (also called breast tomosynthesis or "tomo") is an FDA-approved breast imaging technology that uses the same X-rays as regular 2D mammograms. In both 3D and 2D mammograms, the breast is compressed between two plates. But where 2D mammograms take images only from the front and side, 3D mammograms takes multiple images or "slices" of the breast from many different angles to create a three-dimensional picture of the breast. These slices can reduce images with overlapping breast tissue and give doctors a clearer image of the breast tissue.

“One of the Lucky Ones”

Using 3D mammography can make it easier for doctors to catch breast cancer early and reduce the chances of false positive results. The images are sharper, making it easier to detect abnormalities. 3D mammography boasts a 41% increase in invasive breast cancer detection and a 40% reduction in false positive recalls compared to 2D, as noted by Hologic Healthcare and Diagnostics Company.

“3D mammography saved my life,” Sally says. “I will never forget the moment I got that dreaded phone call. It was like a baseball bat to the side of my head, and I sat there for a moment and wondered what just happened”. However, that feeling of shock passed quickly and Sally knew that she had to take action. “I wasn’t going to let myself get dragged down by the pity. My cancer was detected early; I am one of the lucky ones”.

The Best Screening Technology Available

Sally’s plea is that women recognize the options they have when it comes to their breast health. “I want to shout it from the rooftops, that we have this amazing opportunity locally. Some women think that they have to get their mammograms at their doctors’ offices, or that the 2D machines are good enough. I am here to tell them that they should get the best that is available to them, and that is at Baystate Franklin Medical Center. Tell them I sent you – they know me.”

Learn more about mammography, and make an appointment today.