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Big Bend nurse warns against avoiding breast cancer screenings amid pandemic

Posted at 5:57 PM, Oct 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-21 17:57:09-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Doctors across the country are worried about a wave of cases that may be hidden as a woman from the Big Bend says keeping her appointment might have saved her life.

"COVID is nothing new to me," said Ashley Rutherford, a nurse in the Big Bend.

She's all too familiar with the precautions needed during a pandemic. That's why when she felt an unusual lump she knew she needed a mammogram.

"As if there wasn't already all kinds of crazy, weird stuff going on in the world right now," Rutherford said. "This just added to it."

Rutherford received a breast cancer diagnosis at 30-years-old in the middle of a world health crisis.

She's been living with that news since August and working around the pandemic restrictions to get treatment at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare.

"I have really found strength in my faith," said Rutherford.

This breast cancer awareness month, she's not alone.

"I'm seeing patients younger and younger," said Dr. Jeannine Silberman, a Medical Oncologist.

Nationwide, doctors have been expressing concern about people putting off screenings. Silberman says delaying by even one year can be dangerous.

The American Cancer Society says the number of mammograms is down about 90 percent across the country compared to this time last year.

For those who are concerned with making appointments, Silberman says there are precautions in place to make testing easy.

"It's a common cancer and we have a good screening test that can detect it early and save lives," said Silberman.

Lives like Rutherford's.

"Do not put it off," Rutherford said. "Not because you're scared of what you're going to find or anything like that. It's something that needs to be pushed for."

Silberman says ordinarily women will have a baseline screening in their 30s.

The American Cancer Society recommends women ages 45 to 54 get mammograms every year. Women 55 and older every 2 years.