When people ask Terry Pothier what they can do to help support her in her fight against breast cancer, she gives the same answer every time: “Please get your mammogram.”

Pothier has become an advocate for breast cancer awareness since being diagnosed herself in January. However, even before she completed her own treatment this summer, she began petitioning for a Women’s Center and a breast cancer support group at Doctors Hospital, where she has worked as a nurse for the past 14 years.

The idea came from Pothier’s friend, another breast cancer survivor, who commented that not much was being offered for women at the neighborhood hospital.

“I said somebody should start a breast cancer center at this hospital…and my husband turned around and said, ‘Go for it,’” Pothier says.

At the time, she envisioned it as something for other women – not for herself.

“I had no family history, and I never thought it would happen to me,” Pothier says of being diagnosed. “I exercise, I eat healthy, I never did hormone replacements, so I was really surprised.”

She had found a non-cancerous lump in the past, but this time it was different. Following her mammogram, a series of other tests and a needle biopsy showed the lump to be cancerous.

“It took me about two weeks to get the results,” she says. “I went to see my doctor, and I was on the surgery schedule three days later. It was a very aggressive tumor – small, but aggressive.”

She recently founded the support group, and though the word hasn’t gotten out yet, she has high hopes for it. She and her husband set up for the meeting every month in case someone attends.

“I feel very strongly that it will be something worthwhile to the hospital, but so far there has not been anybody that has shown,” she says.

Dr. Sreeni Chittoor, Pothier’s oncologist who works at both Doctors Hospital and Texas Cancer, believes the support group is a great idea, too.

“I told her she was the kind of individual who should do this thing because no one can question her – she has been there and done that in terms of her experience dealing with breast cancer,” Chitoor says.

Even though Pothier has been working at the hospital for many years, aspects of her experience with breast cancer have surprised her.

“I have met some of the nicest, most supportive women in my entire life,” Pothier says. “I had one girl say it is not a group you want to sign up for, but the most supportive group you will ever be in.”

SHORT-TERM DISCOMFORT, LONG-TERM RELIEF

Terry Pothier is concerned that the number of women getting mammograms has dropped.

It is women who know better who aren’t getting their mammograms,” she says.

So she and Doctors Hospital put together a Mammogramathon to encourage women to take a proactive approach in the fight against breast cancer.

They have come a long way [with mammograms]. It is still uncomfortable at the time you are having it done, but I will tell you having gone through it, treatment is a lot more uncomfortable,” Pothier says.

The Mammogramathon will be on Wednesday, Oct. 17, from 7 a.m.-midnight. You need an appointment, but it can be made the day of the event. The $115 cost (cash or insurance) covers both the mammogram and radiologist fee, plus the hospital will provide refreshments, chair massages, hourly raffles for spa treatments and goodie bags.

For more information, contact Doctors Hospital at 214.324.6220, option 2.