“In the 1940s and 50s, surgeons were skeptical of mammography,” Selena Kemper said. “It was the general belief at the time that if I can’t feel it in an examination, it’s not there.”
Kemper, the mammography supervisor of Springfield Regional Imaging Center of Community Mercy Health Partners, spoke of the history of mammography at the 19th annual Fashion to a Tea event Thursday.
Fashion to a Tea is a fundraiser for Breast Friends Forever, which also celebrates breast cancer survivors and their loved ones who may not have defeated the disease. Mechanicsburg High School football players were present to help seat and serve attendees.
Kemper said breast imaging over the years has grown by leaps and bounds, from x-rays to the invention of mammography itself. It wasn’t until the 1950s that mammography began to be used as a screening tool. The technology continued to improve, reducing radiation as clearer, sharper and digital images were made possible. Currently, the most advanced technology is three-dimensional, allowing for a high-quality digital image that can see each individual layer of the breast.
Kemper said next year, Community Mercy will bring in a 3-D mobile mammography unit for Clark and Champaign counties.
Breast cancer survivors from two months to 46 years were recognized, and Urbana Mayor Bill Bean read a proclamation declaring October Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and lauded the survivors present.
“It is always a pleasure to see all these brave ladies that have gone through breast cancer, survivors,” he said. “My heart goes out to you and I applaud you very much.”
This year’s theme for the event was “Breast Cancer: Through the Years,” which highlighted the changes in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Survivors and relatives took part in modeling clothing from different time periods while master of ceremonies Ellen Spinner spoke of how each time period diagnosed and treated the disease.
Urbana resident Melanie Carter modeled for the 1900-1925 era. A six-month survivor of breast cancer who was diagnosed through a mammogram, she said she is taking part in the event to honor her sister.
“I lost my sister at age 29 to breast cancer,” she said. “I walk for her, for me, and for everyone else here.”
Two-year breast cancer survivor Heather Smith of Dublin was the model for the future of mammography, wearing a pink dress with silver boots and gloves.
“I chose this because I want pink to go back to being just a pretty color,” she said.
Smith grew up in Mechanicsburg. She said she was diagnosed at age 42 through a routine mammogram.
“It can happen at age 42, it can happen when you are younger, it can happen between mammograms,” she said. “Get your mammogram, be proactive and listen to your body.
Smith said she wanted to raise awareness for the disease, and she was thankful to those who have battled the disease before.
“I appreciate all the women that came before me that went through more barbaric procedures to treat it,” she said. “(Treatment) is so much more doable. It’s not the sentence it used to be.”
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.