Monica Santa gives credit where credit is due.

Every October, the long-time Beacon Health System associate makes sure she gives a special shout-out — not to a person, but to a mammogram that saved her life.

Santa was 47 years old when a regular screening mammogram led to a biopsy that led to a diagnosis she never expected: Cancer.

“I was diagnosed with early breast cancer that could only be detected with a mammogram,” Santa says. While it was an aggressive form of cancer, it was considered stage 0 since it was caught so early. “It was not a palpable area and would not have been seen on an ultrasound. That mammogram is the reason I am still here today and able to tell my story.”

Breast cancer does not run in her family.

Every October, Santa, reminds her friends to schedule their annual mammogram. She is even able to welcome them into the office, considering she has spent the past 19 years working at the Memorial Regional Breast Care Center. She’s currently an imaging coordinator at the 100 Navarre Place office.

She has worked at Memorial Hospital a total of 40 years.

Jennifer Leffel, RT, manager of the breast care center, offers these five facts during “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” and urges women to schedule their annual mammogram.

  1. Mammograms DO save lives. They won’t prevent you from getting breast cancer, but when you get a mammogram, it gives us the change to catch cancer as early as possible. That makes the cancer much more treatable.
  2. Every woman over the age of 40 should be getting a mammogram every year, per the American College of Radiology.
  3. One in eight women will develop breast cancer. Eighty percent of the women who are diagnosed with breast cancer each year do not have a family history of breast cancer.
  4. Some people say that mammograms are uncomfortable. But each picture only takes about 11 seconds. We take a total of four pictures for a mammogram screening. Ladies, you can do ANYTHING for a total of 44 seconds. You can do this!
  5. You do not need a physician to order a screening mammogram. You just need to have a physician to receive your report. If you have any clinical symptoms or concerns, you will need to contact your doctor so they can perform an evaluation and order a diagnostic mammogram. You can also call and speak with our staff if you have any questions.

To schedule a mammogram, Leffel said associates, as well as their families and friends, can call the Elkhart Breast Care Center at 574.523.3444 or the Memorial Regional Breast Care Center at 574.647.7700.