My Annual Mammogram Saved My Life

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

Provided by UVA Health

No one prepares you to be diagnosed with cancer. The call from the doctor telling you they found malignancy on your scans is never expected. And when it comes time for you to begin treatment, you’re thrown into an unfamiliar environment and cared for by a medical team you’ve never met.

But, after her 2019 cancer diagnosis, Ginger Sorensen was cared for by her coworkers in the facility she has worked in for the past 20 years. Sorensen, 50, is an assistant nurse manager of women’s and children’s services at Prince William Medical Center and previously worked as a labor and delivery nurse. The mother of three started getting annual mammograms when she turned 40.

In February 2019, Sorensen went for her annual mammogram during one of her shift breaks at Prince William Medical Center. She had no symptoms and no family history of breast cancer, so she was expecting her scans to come back normal as they always had before. She visited with the breast radiology techs and then went back to work.

The next day, her primary care doctor, Soujanya Biragoni, MD, a family medicine physician at Bull Run Family Medicine – Haymarket, called saying she needed to come back for some further tests and scans. “That day, I knew I had breast cancer,” she said.

Embarking on a Breast Cancer Journey

On Feb. 19, 2019, Sorensen was diagnosed with stage one invasive ductal carcinoma in her right breast. According to the American Cancer Society, IDC is the most common type of breast cancer and accounts for about 80% of breast cancer diagnoses.

Sorensen chose to seek treatment locally. She wanted to be able to lean on her fellow team members for support throughout her procedures and treatment. “I wasn’t ashamed of it,” she said. “And my coworkers
supported me every step of the way.”

After discussing her options with her treatment team, she underwent a lumpectomy followed by radiation and chemotherapy — all at Prince William Medical Center and surrounding outpatient clinics. While Sorensen may have known her way around the facilities and encountered some familiar faces when she was receiving treatment, she was still riddled with anxiety, fear and vulnerability, just as many women diagnosed with breast cancer are.

“When you are receiving radiation, you are stripped down of everything and it’s easy to feel alone,” she said. “But between the bond I formed with the other women and the team giving me such good care, I felt so comfortable and supported the entire time.”

What made the difference for Sorensen was the amount of information and statistics her team presented
her from the beginning. John Williams, MD, her breast surgeon, provided countless evidence-based studies and encouraged Sorensen to do her own research to attest that she was going to survive this.

“When your doctor says ‘cancer’, you think the worst,” she added. “But everyone kept telling me the whole time ‘You’re going to be OK.’ And they showed me the research to prove it!”

Annual Mammograms

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breast cancer is the second most common cancer and second leading cause of cancer death among women in the United States, behind skin cancer.

One in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. However, the mortality rate for women diagnosed with breast cancer has been trending downward over the last decade and is currently at less than 3%. Along with better treatments, many researchers attribute this decrease to early screenings and increased awareness about the importance of annual mammograms, beginning at age 40.

It is because of her annual mammogram that Sorensen is able to see her son, Keegan, pursue medical school, watch her daughters, Chloe and Mia, build their careers and families, take her dog, Lily, for walks and be the best wife to her husband, Per. Today, Sorensen is also studying to become a nurse practitioner with plans to graduate in May 2022.

“I’ve been humbled,” she said. “We have to remember to be very tolerant with people around us, whether it’s a patient or someone at a restaurant. You just never know what people are going through.”

To learn more about breast care services or make an appointment for your annual mammogram at UVA Health facilities in Manassas, Haymarket or Culpeper, visit UVAHealth.com/my-mammo.

Share.

Comments are closed.

Follow this blog

Get a weekly email of all new posts.