LOUISIANA (KTAL/KMSS) – One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. A breast cancer survivor of five years said even after her treatment, she still feels the impact.

“It’s something that you deal with for the rest of your life, to different degrees. That is, the thing that I think most people don’t understand,” said Bossier resident and survivor, Jamie Roberts.

At the age of 35, doctors recommend that women begin annual mammograms. If you have higher risk factors like family history, weight, genetic testing, and having children later in life, you may be asked to start mammograms early.

Christus Breast Center prides themselves on their spa-like environment because they know the process can be scary. One employee knows more than anyone, because she is a survivor of 18 years.

“I was a vegetarian at the time, I was in good shape, I did drink my water. I did everything right and I’m not saying that if you do everything right, you’re going to never have breast cancer because I was one of the many that probably do all right,” said breast patient navigator Denise Tindall at Christus Breast Center.

Tindall says she put her life, and health, on hold to be there for her family and navigate her job. She quickly realized that you have to take care of yourself to be able to take care of others.

“I just happened to change physicians, and she did an amazing breast exam on me, and she found it. So, because I neglected myself, if it wasn’t for the doctor, I don’t know how long I would have neglected, continued to neglect myself,” said Tindall.

Roberts is also grateful that the radiology technician found the tumor, she considers herself lucky, despite dealing with the emotions of a mastectomy five years later.

Roberts started her routine mammograms at the age of 40. When she was 44 her results came back clear, but one year later doctors found a tumor.

“I don’t know if you’ve ever seen an ultrasound, but it’s like a screen this big. And it [the tumor] took up 3/4 of that screen. Now obviously, it’s not that big, but it felt that big in the moment,” said Roberts.

Doctors say that it is not enough to just “feel healthy” because mammograms are able to detect cancer early, even with tumors too small to feel.

“A grain of sand, a grain salt, you won’t be able to feel that amongst your breast tissue. The radiologist does a great job at finding those so you would never know. So, finding it early, again the treatment and the survival rate is so much greater,” said Tindall.

As a patient navigator, Tindall will meet with women who are nervous about their exam. She says that while there are never the right words, just being there means the world. She started this position at Christus after her diagnosis because she wished to help other women.

“We have kids, we have family, we have jobs, we have parents. And we just forget about ourselves. And it’s not being selfish, it’s really just taking care of yourself so that you can take care of others.”

If you’ve never had a mammogram, this is the 10-15 minute process Christus Breast Center.

  • If you are having problems with your breasts, see your physician first. If not, you can call and schedule a screening appointment.
  • You will be asked to answer questions to determine your risk and family history.
  • The radiology technician will take you in the back to put your belongings in a locker, and you will change into a cloth robe in the dressing room.
  • Once you are changed, you will sit in the waiting room and make yourself comfortable with complimentary snacks, coffee, and soothing music.
  • The “mammo-tech” will call you into the mammography room and walk you through the process.
  • The tech will indicate which breast to start within the machine.
  • Images will be taken at different angles “the squish,” and then you will step back and repeat on the other side.
  • Then, you are free to change back and gather your belongings.

Christus Breast Center hosts a breast cancer support group twice a month on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month.

The group meets on the 2nd Thursday of the month at the Bossier location, Christus Bossier Outpatient Therapy at 4187 Viking Drive. The group on the 4th Thursday meets at the Shreveport location at 1505 East Bert Kouns in Shreveport.