In December 2020, at the age of 37, Elizabeth Keller, LSW, OSW-C, a Social Worker at McGlinn Cancer Institute at Reading Hospital, was diagnosed with breast cancer. “I started getting mammograms at age 35 because I have a family history of breast cancer,” she said. “I did what I was supposed to do based on my history and they found the cancer early. If I had waited, my story could have been very different.”
According to data from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Berks County is ranked 53rd out of 67 counties among women ages 65 to 74 who have Medicare. Only 38 percent received an annual mammogram between 2012 and 2020. Chester County is ranked 42nd with 40 percent screened, and Montgomery County is ranked 38th with 41 percent screened.
Working at McGlinn Cancer Institute comforted Elizabeth in several ways when she began her cancer journey. She shared, “I already knew my care team members. I was confident they would provide me with the same high level of care I’ve seen them give to all their patients. I meet with them regularly, so I'm mindful that we have the best treatments and technology available.”
Now, almost three years since her diagnosis, and cancer-free, Elizabeth has a unique perspective she shares with patients. “I feel like I can give more to patients now,” she said. “When someone is diagnosed with cancer a lot can get lost, especially for women, emotionally. There are highs and lows, and some individuals feel guilty or are afraid to ask for help.” When she identifies this in a patient she spends more time with them and offers supportive counseling. “Reminding someone that it’s okay to be upset or angry can go a long way,” Elizabeth said.
“Our most recent Community Health Needs Assessment showed us that breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in our communities,” said Suzanne Wenderoth, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Tower Health and Reading Hospital.
“Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women,” Dr. Wenderoth continued. “In the United States, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed at some point in their lives. A mammogram is the primary way to detect breast cancer early so that treatment is less invasive and survival rates are much higher. Mammograms are truly your best defense against breast cancer.”
Dr. Wenderoth added, “Women’s health is something I’m always passionate about. This October I’m encouraging everyone to remind all the women in their lives to schedule their annual mammogram. It could save someone you love.”
You can also schedule an appointment with our Reading Hospital Mobile Mammography Coach, sponsored by the Reading Hospital Foundation. The coach uses the same state-of-the-art technology found in any of our breast imaging centers. View upcoming event dates and locations and call 1-833-34-TOWER to schedule an appointment.
Learn more about breast cancer at TowerHealth.org/FindItEarly.
About Tower Health
Tower Health is a regional integrated healthcare system that offers compassionate, high quality, leading edge healthcare and wellness services to communities in Berks, Chester, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties. With approximately 11,500 employees, Tower Health consists of Reading Hospital in West Reading; Phoenixville Hospital in Phoenixville; Pottstown Hospital in Pottstown; and St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, in partnership with Drexel University. Tower Health is strongly committed to academic medicine and training, including multiple residency and fellowship programs, the Drexel University College of Medicine at Tower Health, and the Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences in West Reading. The system also includes Reading Hospital Rehabilitation at Wyomissing; home healthcare provided by Tower Health at Home; TowerDirect ambulance and emergency response; Tower Health Medical Group; Tower Health Providers, our clinically integrated network; and 25 Tower Health Urgent Care facilities across our service area. For more information, visit towerhealth.org.