Lisa Hale, a licensed practical nurse at Lyster Army Health Clinic, used to work at a gynecologist office and often answered questions from nervous women about receiving a mammogram and what to expect during the exam. Hale, then 36, decided it was time to schedule her first exam so she could tell patients about her experience.

She almost didn't go to her appointment. After all, she didn't really need to get a mammogram until she was 40 years old, and she didn't have any Family history of breast cancer, or any other type of cancer.

The exam ended up saving her life.

"My oncologist said that if I had waited until I was 40 it would have been too late," she said. "It made me think about all the women who schedule their appointment and then blow it off."
After an ultrasound and needle biopsy, the doctors determined that Hale had cancer in her right breast.

She was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, and was told that it was Stage 1, Grade 3 cancer.

"Triple Negative is one of the fastest growing breast cancers and is mostly found in women under age 40. It is also more likely to reoccur," she said.

Hale underwent a mastectomy and chemotherapy to ensure the cancer was gone. During her six months of treatment she said she prayed a lot.

"Chemo was hard, but I was determined to get through it for my family," she said.

She uses her story to educate women on the importance of regular exams and taking care of themselves.

"Women can't get away with the 'no family history' excuse anymore, especially with me," she said. "It's a few quick pictures in a matter of seconds. You can handle it."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends mammograms every year starting at the age of 40 and every two years for women ages 50 to 74.

In 2009 (the most recent year which statistics are available) more than 211,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 died from the disease, according to the CDC website.

Regular mammograms, a healthy diet and exercise and knowing your Family history can help lower your risk of breast cancer.

To make an appointment, call your Primary Care Provider at 334-255-7000.