Doing what I can to improve the experience for others

On Wednesday, November 19th I was wheeled around to various departments as part of my pre-surgery preparation. As part of this, I was seen by mammography, where they placed three wires in my breasts. These wires were guides for the surgeons – to show them where each of my tumor were.

When I returned from my Thanksgiving trip, I discovered that I’d received three letters in the mail. Each stating that the mammogram that I had on November 19th was “normal”.

I had head about this happening. I had heard about organizations that did things like send out annual mammogram reminders to women who have had double-mastectomies (you don’t do mammograms when you don’t have any natural breast tissue).

Rather than dismissing the letters – I sent along an email to the supervisor I had chatted with back when we had issues with wait times in mammography. Since the supervisor gave me her card, I decided to use it.

So now the supervisor knows that the automated system is sending out these letters at times when it is inappropriate. She knows that the system is broken, and can now report it to someone who can fix it.

As an engaged patient, part of my responsibility is to report broken systems. If I tell someone who can then report the problem to someone who can fix it, then I’m doing my part to help improve the systems for everyone that follows …

Here is hoping that women who are undergoing treatment for breast cancer, don’t get any more reports of “normal” mammograms for procedures to help remove the cancer. Let’s save the “normal” results for post treatment, when we can actually celebrate them!

  • Becky


  • Good idea helping people going through the cancer system Rebecca. Things don’t always work as planned and there are some really bad communication glitches where misunderstandings can get really out of control. As I deal with a number of specialists at different venues (all at a distance) it doesn’t seem possible to fix things and the frustration is not what anyone needs on top of the cancer.

    If it wasn’t for Leslie supporting me I would have simply quit the program months ago and taken my chances.

  • As another thought on this there might be people out there who are not connected at all to the system. For instance my chemo is delivered at a branch clinic and the Cancer Institute directing my “care” refuses to talk to me. What to do with systems that shut the patient out?

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