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Mammograms vs Thermograms

Sitting in the waiting room I listened as Patti reinvented the boundaries of cursing, swearing and yelling even with her own daughter trying to help before another mammogram bit the dust …

Sheepishly I glanced around at the other able bodied, able minded women waiting. … “it’s horrible what they do to people with disabilities” … “ a mammogram belongs in a torture museum”

I explained they requested family assistance because last year Patti had slapped a tech … surprisingly most were on Patti’s side with that choice … it’s also a kind of fool’s request to help because while we may be able to help Patti grab on we cannot stay in the room because of radiation.

Silly for me – not only was I x-rayed twice in the womb back in 1950 but considering 17 months of cancer scans and whole brain radiation treatment, I likely glow in the dark anyway.

Because I blog about Multiple Sclerosis Spouse Caregiving I heard back from a reader about thermogram  /thermography.

Bottom line thermography is a non-invasive imaging technology that picks up anomalies in the breast better and earlier than they show up on mammograms. … It is not a replacement for mammograms – think adjunctive …if something looks suspicious you follow up.

For decades I have had to lift Patti on and off exam tables through dentists chairs vs the care facility era where accessible portable machines and even an accessible  dentist chair comes to her.

One local hospital protocol requires her to fail two MRI attempts (one normal, one sedated) before they will give her a MRI under general anesthesia … even though every year it was the same sequence.

A non-ambulatory person with cognitive challenges being flopped on and off a table and shoved into an MRI 3X was cruel to me. Plus we would always have to make a new appointment for the following week which pre accessible van involved physically transferring Patti from wheelchair to car seat and back in addition to table transfers … exhausting.

My own 17 month struggle to outlive MY LUNG CANCER ODYSSSEY had taken my eye off the mammogram challenge / abuse? … Caregiver mistake #1 … I am always a caregiver first … never a patient … never a fan in a ball park …never a sportsman never anything that takes my eye off Patti.

Redirecting my time to researching thermograms … I finished my crash course and liked what I read.

As Patti’s advocate I lined up my ducks and sent a detailed email to her facility director … who in turn forwarded it to Patti’s doctor.

In 24 hrs I heard back the doc had signed off on it. … Now it’s just about finding the machine and setting up an appointment … oh and I suspect a request for family assistance will be coming.

We will gladly attend, early detection of cancer has become near and dear my heart and I know our daughter who witnessed such medieval treatment is so wanting to believe there is a better way.

Editor’s note: We are extremely saddened to say that on November 11, 2013, Patrick Leer passed away. Patrick was an essential member of the community, providing unique insight and perspective as the primary caregiver to his wife, who has MS. His heartful writing continues to reach many. He is deeply missed.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • stukawife
    6 years ago

    I guess i am not sure what the exact issue is. I have need help for many different appointments and have always gotten it. I just had a mammogram and they did it with me seated. I am sorry other folks have not been treated appropriately.

  • JustGrace2
    6 years ago

    I’ve done Thermography and it is sooooo easy! Just taking pictures at different angles, and nothing touches the breasts!! It also detects problem areas so much earlier than mammograms. I’ve read so many con’s regarding mammograms (which I’ve had), I decided to change to Thermography, which I will stay with!! Best to you!!

  • Laura Kolaczkowski
    6 years ago

    The swishing and squeezing aren’t the worst part – to me it is the twisting and lifting arms and bending the body in unnatural positions to fit into the machine. I’m sorry Patti has to endure all of this and hope the thermography works for her and no further torture is needed.

  • Kim Dolce moderator
    6 years ago

    Hi, Patrick,

    I so hope thermography will be an easier experience for Patti, you and your family. Sounds as though you all need to catch a break!

    And thank you for posting about this procedure, I did talk to my OB/GYN about it several years ago, wondering if it could be a more accurate test than a mammogram, but she set me straight on its specific value as being just one part of overall breast cancer screening in the ways you have mentioned.

    Please do let us know how it goes.


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