Sally’s story: Don’t delay annual mammogram

Sally Card says her cancer was caught early.

Sally Card understands that a screening mammogram is a powerful tool, because of its ability to detect breast cancer early. Her cancer journey started with a routine doctor’s visit and a reminder to schedule an annual mammogram.

“It started with a regular visit to my doctor, and she said, ‘you are overdue for your mammogram.’ So, I went ahead and had it done. They found an abnormality, and they sent me for an ultrasound. Then, they sent me for a biopsy, and I actually saw the results on my chart before they even called me. After that, they called me and I made an appointment with Dr. (Nkeiruka) Okoye, the cancer doctor, and I started chemotherapy right away,” says Card.

Card, a local breast cancer survivor was diagnosed in July 2022 with a spot on her left breast. She underwent chemotherapy treatments for a couple of months, a surgery to remove the breast tissue and a lymph node, and radiation followed for several weeks.

“Then, I had surgery to remove the spot, and it came back as clear, and there was no more cancer. So, the chemo killed it, and when I had my surgery, they removed the little spot that was there. Then, after that, I did radiation for several weeks,” Card says.

She adds: “They caught it really early on. It was triple negative, which is pretty invasive, but they did catch it early, so I was thankful that I went and got tested.”

Now, Card goes back to the doctor every six months for a check-up. She just had her annual mammogram last month and it was clear. Prior to the mammogram that caught the cancer, Card says she wasn’t good about getting her annual mammograms, but she was glad her doctor pushed her in that direction. Now, her perspective has changed, and she says she’s going to be diligent about getting an annual mammogram. She also encourages other women to get an annual mammogram.

“I’m definitely going to be on it every year now,” she says. “I would encourage other women to get annual mammograms as well because if you catch it soon enough, if there is something there, they can start treatment right away, and like with me, be totally cured,” Card says.

Another aspect of treatment that was vital for Card was working with a nurse navigator, who helped her through the cancer care process. Terri Wilson, BSN, RN, OCN: oncology nurse navigator at Atrium Medical Center walked alongside Card throughout the entire process, including her diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. Card was first connected with Wilson prior to her ultrasound.

“My nurse navigator was very helpful, and she connected me with all of these organizations, and she walked me through all of my appointments and things like that,” Card says. “She was with me through the whole thing. She helped me with appointments and would show up at my appointments to see if I needed anything.”

In addition to working with Wilson, Card’s care team included Dr. Heather Adkins, a board-certified surgeon with Premier Physician Network and a certified physician with MD Anderson Cancer Network (Adkins also sees patients in the Breast Center at Atrium Medical Center for surgical consultations.) and Dr. Okoye, MD, an oncologist with Dayton Physicians Network.

Breast cancer organizations throughout the region are also helpful when it comes to providing meals, cleaning, offering financial assistance, and much more.

“I would urge other women to follow their doctor’s directions and get plugged in with all the organizations that are out there to help,” Card says.

Several organizations were helpful for her, including Breast Wishes Foundation, Pink Ribbon Girls, and The Atrium Foundation, she says.

“The Pink Ribbon Girls sent me a new vacuum cleaner, and organic cleaning supplies. They also offered meals, but I didn’t take those, because my husband cooks for me. Breast Wishes paid for me to have a two-night stay at Hueston Woods in a cabin with my husband, and also provided a pizza party for my family, and I feel like they paid for a couple of my bills, too. Also, The Atrium Foundation paid my rent for two months,” Card says.

A few of the things Sally’s husband, Mark, cooked for her during treatment were instant mashed potatoes and Cream of Wheat. She also enjoyed eating Ramen Noodles. She says her husband still likes cooking every night, doing chores, and he even does laundry.

For other women facing a diagnosis, or chemotherapy, Card says, “Take care of yourself, get as much rest as you can, and hopefully, your family is supportive and helpful with housework, and chores. Also, find the things you like to eat that taste good to you.”

Card, a Carlisle resident, is a medical center representative at Premier Blood and Cancer Center at Atrium Medical Center. Prior to this role, she worked in patient access at Atrium Medical Center. Sally and Mark have five children and 14 grandchildren.

In her free time, Sally enjoys crossword puzzles, word search puzzles, traveling to Indiana to visit family, and spending time with her children and grandchildren.

Nurse Navigators Ease Breast Cancer Journey

Receiving the news of potential breast cancer can be overwhelming. Clinically trained nurse navigators can help ease the breast cancer journey by walking patients through all the aspects of cancer care from diagnosis and treatment to recovery. Nurse Navigators help to simplify the process for patients and ensure that they have ongoing support.

A Nurse Navigator will:

  • Act as a single point of contact for the patient to help link all care providers during the patient’s journey
  • Assist to eliminate barriers to care – transportation, financial counseling, timely appointment access, and more
  • Provide education and emotional support while connecting you with supportive services, such as counseling, massage, wig resources, nutrition classes, integrative care, rehab services, and exercise.

Support Breast Cancer Research

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. One of the largest fundraising events to support the American Cancer Society’s fight against the disease is the annual Making Strides of Cincinnati walk. (Making Strides Greater Dayton ( was held Oct. 14.)


WHEN: 7:30 a.m. registration; 8:30 a.m. chip-timed 5k; 9 a.m. walk #1; 9:30 a.m. walk #2, Saturday, Oct. 21

WHERE: Yeatman’s Cove, 705 E Pete Rose Way, Cincinnati


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