Patient credits regular mammograms with life-saving diagnosis

Patient credits regular mammograms with life-saving diagnosis

Linda Horner, of Greensburg, first had breast cancer 36 years ago. At age 34, after feeling a lump in her breast, she went to see a doctor in Ohio. Unfortunately, this doctor sent her home without further follow up. The lump continued to grow. A year and a half later, Linda was finally diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a lumpectomy, radiation and chemotherapy. Afterwards her cancer went into remission.

Each year after that, for 35 years, Linda had a mammogram done. At age 69, Linda’s yearly mammogram showed that her breast cancer had returned. Thanks to her regular screenings, Linda’s second round of cancer was detected early, when it was most treatable. Linda had a double mastectomy, radiation and chemotherapy. Because she was found to carry a mutation in her BRCA2 gene, Linda’s ovaries were removed as well.

Today Linda wishes that everyone would get their mammograms and other cancer screenings as needed. She knows that without them, she would not be here today. Linda hopes that in sharing her story she can help convince other people of the importance of early detection. She feels that if even one person with cancer hears her story and decides to get a screening, sharing her cancer journey will be worth it. She said, “The mammogram can see your cancer before you do. If it’s good news, it’s good news. If it’s not, it could save your life.”

Second only to her mammograms, Linda attributes her current health to Dr. Jaime Ayon, oncologist at the Sheehan Cancer Center of Rush Memorial Hospital.

Speaking of Dr. Ayon, Linda said, “You don’t know how lucky you are to have him.” Laughing she adds, “Who else could you call on a Saturday night? Dr. Ayon gives you the home town coziness with the big town knowledge.”

Prompted in part by success stories such as Linda’s, in January Rush Memorial Hospital launched a campaign to promote cancer screenings in Rush County.

A cancer screening is a test performed to detect cancer if it is present. A cancer screening lets you know that cancer is present in the body. Once the patient has been diagnosed, doctors can work to stop the cancer from growing, spreading and becoming more difficult to treat, as they were able to do with Linda’s second cancer experience.

In the case of mammograms, at RMH, free screening, diagnostic and support services are available through funding raised by the Indiana Breast Cancer Awareness license plate. The Sheehan Cancer Center and the primary care providers at RMH can provide information about how to access these funds. The purpose of the funding is to assure that being uninsured or under-insured will not keep any women in Rush County from getting their mammograms.

RMH is currently focusing on four types of cancer screenings: colon, prostate, breast and lung. Of these four types of screenings, only a mammogram does not require a physician’s referral for a screening. Mammograms can be scheduled directly by calling the RMH Imaging Department at 765-932-7556. All other patients should call Healthcare Associates at 765-932-7591 for a primary care appointment. For more information on who does and does not need each type of screening, visit the RMH website at https://www.rushmemorial.com/services/wellness/cancer-screenings/.