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“Healthy” With Cancer

Like many healthy women, Janna Foels, 46, delayed having her first mammogram.

Your Local Health | Written by BJ Towe

“I was one of those people who kept thinking ‘I’m healthy; I don’t really need to get a mammogram,'” says Janna Foels of Urbandale. Last year at the urging of her Family Medicine physician, “I thought it was truly time I go get this taken care of.”

Her mammogram showed some abnormalities. A subsequent ultrasound was inconclusive, so an MRI was recommended. However, Foels’ insurance company wouldn’t cover the MRI. “Given the other tests, (the insurance company) felt it would also be inconclusive,” says Foels.

“I thought I’d wait and see what showed up at my next annual exam,” she says.

Insurance Change Leads to OB/GYN Change

Almost a year later, when Foels’ health insurance changed, she decided to find a Gynecologist who, like Dr. Lee, was with The Iowa Clinic. “I liked the idea of having all of my (medical) information in one place. I thought that would make life easier in the future,” Foels says.

She scheduled her next OB/GYN exam with Amy McEntaffer, M.D. for the end of July. But six weeks prior to that appointment, she noticed an indentation in her left breast. She called Dr. McEntaffer’s office, explained what she saw, and asked if it was okay to wait for her appointment.

“They asked me to come in that day,” she says.

Whirlwind Begins

After being examined by the nurse practitioner, Foels went directly to have a mammogram. Because the mammogram revealed a suspicious spot, she also had an ultrasound.

“The Radiologist felt there were a couple of places of concern on the left side, and also on the right,” she says.

After having biopsies two days later, the doctor called. “He said the good news was that my right breast showed no cancer, but I did have cancer on the left side,” Foels says. She was referred to General Surgeon Jeffrey Dietzenbach, M.D. – and saw him the next day.

“It was actually really cool – the first phone call I made to the doctor was on June 15 and I was consulting with a surgeon on the 19th,” she says.

Foels’ gut feeling was to have the double mastectomy, which was performed on July 10. In November, a plastic surgeon completed her reconstructive surgery.

Take Time for Yourself

Foels says working full-time and the many responsibilities that come with raising two teenage children made it easy to ignore her own health.

“As long as I was feeling well, I felt I wasn’t as important. Looking back, it would have been better to take time to have the appointments needed for myself,” she says.

If you’re over 40 and it’s time for your annual mammogram, make an appointment at The Iowa Clinic Women’s Center by calling 515.875.9500.

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