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Get a jump start on Breast Cancer Awareness Month

“We have seen everything,” Miranda Lyman-Hager says in her reassuring way. She started her career as a mammography technologist more than 20 years ago.

Despite added attention paid to breast cancer awareness each October, Lyman-Hagar knows many women skip regular mammograms. That is one reason why she and her team strive to make the process simple, while being respectful of cultural differences.

“You have to talk each patient and explain what you’re going to do. Let them know how many pictures it is going to take, and let them cover up between each picture as you’re moving about the room,” she explains. “Our goal is to make the patient comfortable.”

Today, Lyman-Hagar works as the Quality Assurance Supervisor at Truman Medical Centers/University Health (TMC/UH) and travels around the United States training other techs on how to get the most accurate mammogram images.

“While a mammography tech’s goal is to keep the patient as comfortable as possible, we have to apply compression to the breast. So our biggest fear is to miss any tissue that could show alert a radiologist to cancer,” said Lyman-Hager. “It’s a balance between the need to be nice and potentially save a life.”

As for the physical discomfort, Lyman-Hager says it varies from woman to woman and often depends on whether a woman has fatty or dense breast tissue. However, after years of helping women detect and beat breast cancer, she offers three easy tips on how to stay comfortable.

Tips:

  • Take an ibuprofen/Advil a couple of hours before your appointment
  • Skip the coffee: Avoid caffeine before your appointment
  • Schedule a mammogram when your breast are the least tender, one week after your menstrual cycle ends