Local nurse wins battle with breast cancer

With a history of cancers in her family, a Seymour nurse decided she wasn’t going to wait until the recommended age of 40 to have her first mammogram.

Beth Smith had a baseline mammogram performed when she turned 35 in 2006. There was nothing unusual about the results, so doctors told her she could start regular breast screenings in five years.

In January 2011, after going back for her first regular mammogram, Smith would learn she had breast cancer. She was 40 years old.

“On that mammogram, they found something they said were microcalcifications, so they wanted me to come back so they could do a biopsy,” Smith said.

Microcalcifications are tiny specks of calcium in the breast that may or may not indicate the presence of cancer. They have no visual symptoms, such as a lump, and are sometimes seen in the very early development stages of breast cancer.

“It’s an abnormality,” Smith said. “They found something that was abnormal.”

She had a needle biopsy done, but at that point, there was no confirmation of cancer, so she tried not to let it stress her out.

“Anytime someone tells you something is abnormal, you’re going to worry,” she said. “I Googled what that could mean. As a nurse, there are always questions.”

Smith worked on the fourth floor of Schneck Medical Center at the time. Shortly after the biopsy, she saw her family doctor at the nurses station on her floor.

It wasn’t unusual for family doctors to be on the floor checking on patients, she said.

“I was in a room right across from the nurses station, so I saw her standing there, and she was looking through some papers,” Smith said. “I knew she didn’t have any patients on the floor that day. I immediately thought, ‘What is she doing here? Is she here to see me?'”

Smith said prior to seeing her doctor at the nurses station, she had heard the hospital page the pathologist.

“I knew she had spoken with the pathologist. The wheels immediately started to turn,” Smith said.

Read the full story in Friday’s Tribune and online at tribtown.com.

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.