Nancy Von Rohr of Prescott has something to tell women about scheduling a mammogram.
“You are NEVER too old to get breast cancer so we need to keep getting those mammograms,” Von Rohr wrote in answer to the Courier’s appeal to women to share their cancer stories as part of October Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The American Cancer Society guidelines for women at average risk suggest every woman should have a baseline mammogram no later than age 45, and as early as age 40, with yearly exams until age 55. At 55, women still deemed to be at average risk can switch to mammograms every two years. There is no guideline about a time to stop having regular mammogram screenings.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d ever be part of this (women with breast cancer),” Von Rohr said. “But I am.”
At age 80, Von Rohr’s mammogram after a January doctor’s appointment detected “something suspicious.” On Oct. 9 she was to begin radiation treatments.
Faithful about making her annual mammogram appointment through 2016, Von Rohr admits she missed a year because of insurance and doctor changes, and because it simply wasn’t one of her favorite things to arrange and so she skipped it. When she finally was able to make an appointment with a new physician in January, the doctor advised her to get a mammogram.
She, again, shrugged it off.
“Oh, come on, I’m 80,” Von Rohr recalls telling her doctor. “If I was going to get breast cancer, I’d have it by now!”
The doctor gave her a stern look, and repeated his directive: “Get a mammogram.”
“So I did,” she said.
The results left her stunned, and commenced what for her was an unexpected medical sojourn.
Since her diagnosis, Von Rohr has heard from several friends her age who said they were told they did not need to do mammogram screenings any longer.
From her perspective, and real life experience, Von Rohr said she wants to inform others not to let age, or inconvenience, get in the way of their health.
“Every woman’s story is so unique,” Von Rohr said. “I am learning so much.”