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Mammogram parties save lives: Nurse Lisa Brown’s story

Blog

Mammogram parties save lives: Nurse Lisa Brown’s story

My name is Lisa Brown, I am 49 years old, and I have been a nurse at VPFW for 22 years.  One Friday afternoon on July 12th, 2019, as I was leaving the office for the night, I heard a group of about ten women from Farmville who were having their yearly after-hours mammogram party in our Imaging Center. They were all wearing pink ribbon t-shirts and enjoying snacks and music with the mammography staff, chatting and hugging like it was a family reunion. It was their fifth year making the trek to Richmond to make sure they all got their annual mammograms. It was quite a party!

Ten women smiling doing a selfie and wearing white t-shirts that say "Squeeze Pleez" with pink ribbons
The “Squeeze Pleez” crew

As I was speaking to these ladies, they asked me when I had my last mammogram. It had been 6 years. “You’re up first!” they said. They became adamant that I have a mammogram along with their group.  I really just wanted to go home, but these wonderful women made me feel welcomed and a part of their event.  I decided that I would go ahead and have the mammogram – after all, I was 6 years overdue and had a family history of breast cancer. I just needed that extra push from the “Squeeze Pleez” crew.

Within a few days, the mammogram results came back. They indicated a right breast mass.  I immediately had additional views and a breast ultrasound performed, which resulted in me needing a breast biopsy.  I was notified by the hospital that I needed to come in ASAP and have a consultation with the consultant and radiologist.  I went to my appointment and I will never forget the words I was told: “You have breast cancer and will need to see a surgeon immediately.”

One week later I had an appointment with Dr. Felsen, and we discussed options for treatment, gene testing, and the need for a breast MRI.  My gene testing came back BRCA negative, and my breast MRI was negative as well.  On August 22, 2019, I had a right breast lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy. After this procedure, I underwent 21 radiation treatments, had several oncologist visits, all while fighting a lymph node incision infection that required hospitalization to treat.

A woman in pink scrubs hugs and smiles with a woman in a white pink ribbon t-shirt
Nurse Lisa Brown and Mammo Party Coordinator, Tonya M.-Smith Blanton

As I reach the end of my radiation treatments, I realize that mammograms do save lives.  One chance encounter with a group of impassioned ladies saved mine.  I can never thank them enough for encouraging me to get my mammogram that night.  These women have befriended and consoled me throughout this entire journey. They texted me to congratulate me on my final radiation treatment. They invited me to join them when they come back for their mammogram party next year, and every year. Now, I would like to challenge you to take control of your health and get a regular screening mammogram. Don’t wait. Let me be the inspiration you need. I am proof that it could possibly save your life.