October 17, 2017
When the Edith Sanford mobile mammogram unit pulled into her hometown of Brookings, Annette Streich scheduled a screening that may have saved her life.
“I was impressed with the service that I was given that day,” she said. “It didn’t take much time at all, which made the experience easy.”
The mammogram was Streich’s first ever, and she wasn’t expecting to receive a phone call a few days later: the screening found spots that were concerning and a more detailed imaging exam was needed to take a closer look.
Yet, Streich wasn’t scared or nervous.
“I believe this was out of my control,” she said. “I trusted the medical staff at Sanford and knew God would take care of me.”
Streich traveled to the Edith Sanford Breast Center in Sioux Falls, where she underwent a diagnostic mammogram and a few days later a couple of core biopsies.
“Everybody was so nice,” she said. “I especially remember a very kind nurse named Mona. She treated me like I was her kid. She rubbed my back and kept me as comfortable as possible during the biopsies.”
Like all the staff, Mona Vanderzee, a Sanford oncology nurse, went above and beyond to take care of Streich. When the biopsy confirmed that Streich had early-stage breast cancer, she felt like she was in good hands.
After a meeting with Sanford oncologist Dr. Jesse Dirksen, Streich opted for a bilateral mastectomy followed by reconstruction surgery performed by Dr. Heather Karu. Everything went smoothly.
“Physically things are different, but I’m fine,” said Streich. “It’s over and I don’t worry about cancer recurring.
“I think it’s wonderful that a rural state like South Dakota has such excellent medical care,” she added. “I know people in other states who desire the medical care that Sioux Falls offers.”
Streich chose to undergo pre-pectoral direct to implant reconstruction with Dr. Karu, which is a new technique offering reconstruction in one stage with less pain and a quicker recovery.
Now, Streich wants to share her experience and encourage every woman she knows to schedule a mammogram. She credits the 10-minute screening with saving her life.
“When my friends’ birthdays appear on social media,” she says, “I will type a little note and say, ‘Happy Birthday! Have you had a mammogram?’”
“Obviously, I’m not suffering today because of early detection.”
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