Pete Power is an exceptional individual and her last name indeed conveys that she utilizes her Power to be passionate, kind, and deliver the utmost of care in order to make a difference in the lives of those she meets daily. I was able to talk with Pete about her long-standing history at Houston Medical Imaging, the importance of women’s health, and the need to be advocates for ourselves as well as our loved ones. I found this interview to be both touching as well as resonating and I am excited to share it with you.
We started our conversation with the usual topics such as, where are you from? Tell me more about your family? Etc., but an important lesson was quickly gleaned from our chat in which we could all benefit from.
Pete Power has worked with HMI for almost eleven years. She was born and raised in Houston, Texas and has been married to her high school sweetheart for 36 years. Together they have raised three boys and now have grandchildren of their own. Pete’s eyes lit up when she spoke of her family, they are her pride and joy, as is evident in the photos she displays in her office.
Her career started in the oil and gas industry, but she quickly realized that she wasn’t fulfilled. After helping her husband start a company, she decided to go to school. She had always wanted to pursue medical school but found that her top priorities consisted of being a mother and wife. Pete could not deny that she always felt like the “healthcare gene” was in her blood as she comes from a family with many healthcare workers including doctors and nurses. Though she was focused on her family, her sister encouraged her to go to school in order to obtain a job in healthcare and she felt that she could balance the two.
She followed her sister’s advice and enrolled at the University of Houston and started taking her pre-requisites for HCC Health Professions. Pete studied Radiation Oncology and graduated with her degree. Anyone that has chosen a career in the field of healthcare, understands that it not only takes an applicable skillset to be good at what you do, but it also takes a certain personality. It is clear that an individual who specializes in caring for patients that could be potentially diagnosed with a terminal illness or being treated for one, has a heart of gold. Imagine if a high percentage of patients that you saw on a regular basis were not going to live much longer? Your outlook on life might be a bit different. According to Pete, “You have to absolutely love this profession. It’s certainly not about the money, it’s about the reward of helping and potentially saving someone’s life.”
When discussing women’s health with Pete, she had a firm grasp on her role in the diagnostic process. She stressed the importance of the Women’s Center team to be supportive, knowledgeable, and compassionate towards patients they encounter. I believe that her background in radiation oncology has provided her with a positive perspective that influences her and her work at HMI’s Women’s Center.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, Breast cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in women and the second most common cancer overall. It was estimated that in 2019, there would be 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer, 62,930 new cases of in situ breast cancer (ductal carcinoma in situ) of which, 83 percent will be DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ is the presence of abnormal cells inside a milk duct in the breast) and an estimate of 41,760 breast cancer deaths. [Susan G Komen]
Depending on the reader, you may not fully understand what this means and how it could potentially impact you, your wife, mother, grandmother, or daughter, so allow me to explain it in a different manner. According to the statistics above, if you have a group of 100,000 women, 129.8 would be diagnosed with breast cancer and 20 of them would die from the disease. Could someone we know, or love be potentially among those diagnosed this year? Sadly, we don’t know. We don’t have a crystal ball that tells us the future, but we do have the great gift of technology. A Mammogram can help with early detection, and increase the odds of catching the disease, and ultimately, treat the disease with a higher chance for a positive outcome. The moral of the story is, early detection can save lives. It is our responsibility to spread the message to our loved ones, remind them to have annual mammograms screenings, and stay informed. These small gestures are worth the time as it can give someone else or even ourselves more time.
Pete absolutely adores the two radiologists at The Women’s Center; Dr. Longbotham and Dr. Doe. She said, “They are true advocates for women and women’s health. Their dedication and compassion for patients has been a wonderful example and very inspiring.” When I asked what makes them unique, she said that, not only are they compassionate, but they go above and beyond to care for their patients. They do everything they can to ensure patients have the support and information they need to make informed decisions as well as get the help or resources needed in the event there is a positive diagnosis. “They take their time to fill out forms to help patients receive treatment at MD Anderson, which is not a part of their job description, but they do it anyway. They really care and it’s wonderful to work with a team like that.” The team has put processes in place to ensure that patients receive a follow up including phone calls, letters, etc. Pete explained that there are so many patients who don’t have good support at home or they don’t want to be a burden on their family, which more often than not ends with them not taking control of their health. “I believe we have a responsibility, and we do everything we can to give them the support they need. Being familiar with my patients is important to me. I want them to know that I care and even if it’s just giving them a smile or a friendly face, it goes a long way and I feel like I’m making a difference.”
I asked Mrs. Power what a typical day looked like at the Women’s Center. She explained that every day is a bit different, but all focused on the circle of patient care. She has a full schedule of mammograms, assists with biopsies, and manages the clinic. Her role as clinic director is more than just managing the team, as it also requires a lot of time ensuring that each step in the process is correct such as sending reports, sending specimens to pathology, returning phone calls to patients, pathologists, referring physicians, etc. She said, “We want each patient that walks through our door to feel and know that we are there for them. We see a lot of high-profile people, yet we treat all patients like they are VIPs.”
The Center features state-of-the-art equipment, with impressive décor. Pete, along with the team, decorated the office to reflect a personality- strong, yet feminine. When you walk through the clinic you get a feeling of warmth with a clean and uncluttered motif. If I had to describe the environment that they have created, I would say that it is welcoming and emanates kindness.
I asked Pete what she thought made an excellent imaging clinic. Very candidly she explained, while equipment is vital, you need more than that, such as driven individuals who are dedicated to delivering compassionate patientcare. She believes that HMI has been successful in hiring wonderful people that fit that description. “Having Dr. Stenoien, who is also a radiologist, as the owner of HMI has proved to be beneficial for us as employees and also for our patients. Dr. Stenoien has put great effort in promoting quality-care and making our mission to be that of building trust with our patients and referring physicians.”
The state-of-the-art equipment and services offered at the Women’s Center is quite impressive. They offer 2D and 3D mammograms, ultrasound, bone density scans, nuclear medicine injections, biopsies, and screenings with radiologists on site. Patients can request either 2D or 3D mammograms. Typically, a 3D mammogram is the preferred choice when it comes to dense breast tissue. It takes images at 1mm increments at a 45-degree angle similar to a CT machine. It reconstructs 2D into a 3D image. It has improved capabilities of picking up distortions, asymmetry, calcifications, and dense tissue such as fibro cystic tissue. Thankfully, the majority of insurance companies will cover 3D mammograms, however, it is always advised to check with your insurance provider prior to having any imaging study to understand your benefits.
When asked what she see as the biggest misconception patients have regarding women’s imaging, she said that patients tend to associate mammograms with pain, especially if they have never had one before. She would like patients to know that this is not always the case, while it can be uncomfortable for some patients, she believes that a common cause for the pain is due to the patient not relaxing during the exam. If the technologist can talk to the patient and help them relax it makes a big difference with the muscles relaxing thus diminishing the discomfort of the imaging study.
I asked her if she could change one thing in healthcare what would it be? She said that she would change the process in which insurance providers cover women’s imaging needs. She explained that, frequently, a patient has to wait for their treatment to start due to delays in the length of approval process time or referrals. “We are seeing younger patients being diagnosed with breast cancer, and it is typically more aggressive, so time is of the essence for these young patients to start treatment as quickly as possible.”
I admire Mrs. Power for her passion and commitment to her strong beliefs on compassionate patient care. She is genuine and sincere when she speaks of the many patients that she has met in her career. Her understanding, empathy, efforts, as well as time that she dedicates to her patients’ wellbeing are clearly evident and worth acknowledging. She talks about her patients as if they were family. If a patient is needing an advocate because they are scared or anxious or they are just needing someone to act as a friend- Pete is that stellar individual.
With her busy and often stressful days, she stays active by working out, running, and doing bungy yoga. She spends as much time as possible with her family, especially her grandchildren. She is an active member in her church and volunteers regularly.
Houston Medical Imaging is proud to have wonderful individuals such as Pete Power. We are proud of the team at the Women’s Center and appreciate all that they do for our patients on a daily basis.
My lesson today reminded me to always be kind and remember to support your loved ones and ensure that they are taking control of their health and getting their annual screenings.
If you need a mammogram or have imaging needs, our team is available to answer any questions you may have, including, assisting you in understanding your health benefits. For more information you can visit our website.
How to conduct a Breast Self-Exam:
A breast self-exam can be performed lying down, in the shower or standing up facing a mirror
1. Stand in front of the mirror with your arms over your head
2. Look for puckers, dimples or redness on the skin
3. Use three or four fingers on your left hand to explore the right breast, beginning on the outer edge. Move your fingers in a small circular motion or up and down around the breast to feel for any changes. Repeat this step with the left breast.
4. With one arm raised, check under your arm for any lumps. Repeat on opposite side.
5. Gently squeeze each nipple to check for discharge.
6. Should you have any abnormal findings or have questions, contact your doctor for a full examination.
American Institute for Cancer Research
Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation