A tradition of Excellence in Patient Care


Posted by Jessica Curran on Oct 18, 2019 10:15:00 AM

Susan Swearingen

Pink represents breast cancer awareness and early detection saves lives. As we come together to talk about awareness, I can’t think of a more positive way than hearing personal stories from women who can share how early detection actually saved them. Today, I would like to introduce you to Susan Swearingen, who is a wonderful-women and truly a remarkable individual.

Susan is a great example of someone who is very active in promoting mammogram screenings because she is living proof that a screening mammogram can saved her life. She has very generously agreed to share her with our readers, and we are grateful to her for allowing us to see part of her life experience when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. We admire Mrs. Swearingen for her courage, strength, perseverance!

Susan Swearingen

“Be careful what you pray for. You’ve heard it. It’s true. As an over ample bosomed woman, for years I had prayed for a breast reduction. You flatter chested women who long for Dolly Parton breasts to carry around. Think again. I don’t think I know a big bosomed woman alive who wouldn’t love to leave the weight and boob sweat behind them for the freedom of braless off the shoulder flowy shirts. It was my ‘largest’ physical prayer request, pun intended.

In September of 2016, I went in for my yearly mammogram. Sometimes the longest wait is sitting in a clinic gown after a mammogram, waiting for it to be read, in case the radiologist needs a second look. That year, mine did. Calcifications he called it. Very small, but we needed a second look through a biopsy to be sure. My doctor recommended Houston Medical Imaging as a quicker and more economical alternative to the hospital. September twenty second, I went in for my biopsy. The staff at HMI made us feel right at home. Pete, the radiology manager and tech, put me right at ease, and I felt like I’d known her all my life. Dr. Doe, the breast radiologist, did as well. You know it helps to calm your fears when the two people doing your procedure work well together, and with such a sense of humor. I giggled more than I worried. As fate would have it, while doing the biopsy on the area found in my mammogram, the radiologist found another suspicious area, and biopsied that as well. Her trained eye was correct. The two sites came back diagnosed as Ductal Carcinoma in Situ and Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. She got back to me as quickly as she found out, knowing my anxiety and anticipation. I’ll forever be grateful for that. Once the pathology was discovered, I asked her what else might have been missed on my initial mammograms. She recommended my doctor order a breast MRI. Again, the power of trusting your instincts. One more area in the same breast was discovered.

After researching different treatment options, I decided to go to M.D. Anderson. There, the treatment journey began. I had a wonderful treatment team with the best surgeons available. Because everything was caught so early, they were able to reduce the number of radiation treatments I had to endure, as well. All in all, I felt incredibly blessed from the biopsy diagnosis at HMI, through the treatment process at Anderson. But I also carried an arsenal with me; a warrior attitude, the healing powers of God, and the prayers and support of an extensive number of friends and family members. Healing is a multifaceted approach and process. While my outcome was very favorable, and I got my beloved breast reduction and lift, this story isn’t about that. This story is about early detection, yearly mammograms, and qualified specialists to see what others may not see.

According to an article in U.S. News and World Report, anywhere from 384,000 to 614,500 deaths have been prevented since 1989 due to early detection and mammograms. A study published in the journal Cancer estimated that regular screening plus improved treatments have cut the expected rate of breast cancer deaths in 2018 by between 45 to 58 percent. Nothing has helped cut the mortality rate more than a simple mammogram. Yet, statistics tell us that only about half of women older than forty in the U.S. get regular mammograms. Why?

I am ever thankful that I am not only here today, but that I am living well. That, my friends, is the beauty of early detection. It is much easier and less traumatic to treat breast cancer at stage zero and one, than it is at stage three or four. To be honest, I was about two months over my mammogram due date. But that’s much better than two years, or never. I shutter to think what would have been growing inside me and multiplying its damage. And I am extremely grateful I had the sharp eye of a specialized Breast Radiologist, who saw what others missed. The importance of the professionals reading your mammograms is crucial. Choose wisely.

Ladies … these yearly screenings are an easy inconvenience to our schedules. But you never know when it could be lifesaving. Don’t put it off. These days there are just no excuses. There are programs to pay for them and I happened to see today that Lift was offering free rides to women for them. Give your family the greatest gift you could ever give them … you. Take care of you. Teach your daughters how to take care of themselves by taking care of you. I’m not a grandmother yet. But someday I can’t wait to meet them, and I am forever grateful I will be here for that day.” 

Susan and her daughter

Susan and her husband








If you need to schedule your annual screening mammogram, don’t wait or delay call today!

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Topics: imaging, thewomenscenter, Qualitycare, radiology, patientcare, hmi, technology, truestory, womenscare, breast center