Don’t put off scheduling a mammogram

This year has brought on a level of stress that has been overwhelming for many; yet nothing can quite compare to the stress of facing the challenges of COVID-19 while overcoming a cancer diagnosis.

Nurse practitioner Kari Swisher, her husband Dr. Adam Swisher, and their four children took on more than their fair share of stress this year with Kari’s breast cancer diagnosis.

“I have no family history of breast cancer and I had a normal mammogram last October,” said Kari.

However, later Kari noticed a lump and immediately knew it needed to be checked out.

“I called my primary care provider and I was able to get into the Women’s Center the next day,” she explained.

Kari was able to get a mammogram and ultrasound at UnityPoint Clinic Norma Schmoker Women’s Center.

“The same day of the mammogram, Dr. Kliewer performed an ultrasound guided biopsy due to suspicious characteristics of the mass,” Kari says. “I was then scheduled to see Dr. Miegge (surgeon) the following day.”

Without delay, Kari would learn the results of the biopsy confirming she had triple positive (estrogen, progesterone, and HER positive) breast cancer.With the guidance of her care team, she immediately determined a plan that would involve chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. However, her plan would soon evolve based on her body’s response to treatments.

“It was a whirlwind,” said Kari. “But I was so grateful how quickly everything took place. It really helped alleviate some of the stress I was undergoing.”

As Kari continues on her cancer journey; she remembers to celebrate each milestone along the way and could not be more grateful for the care she’s received.

“I can’t explain how kind, comforting and truly amazing my care team has been,” Kari said. “I have been so touched by Dr. Kliewer, Dr. Tofflin, Dr. Miegge, and everyone at the Norma Schmoker Women’s Center and Trinity Cancer Center. They have gone above and beyond in making sure I’m receiving the very best care.”

While Kari has currently pressed pause on her role as nurse practitioner, she explains, “Experiencing the care I’ve received only makes me prouder to work for UnityPoint Health because I know my patients are in good hands.”

As both a nurse practitioner and breast cancer patient, she offers advice to women who are 40 years and older.

“Do not let COVID-19 get in the way of you scheduling your mammogram. Putting it off could impact your prognosis.” Kari adds, “Do not be afraid to be your own advocate and let your doctor know if something doesn’t seem right.”

Alyssa Stanek is the senior marketing communications specialist for UnityPoint Health – Fort Dodge.

Here’s What You Need to Know:

• Mammograms take less than 30 minutes

• If you are 40 years and over it may be time for a mammogram

• If you have a family history of breast cancer, talk to your doctor about when to start testing

• If you have any questions or want to request a mammogram, talk with your primary care provider.


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