(Shared with permission from BC Cancer)
Meet Emma DeCiccio, a mammography technologist at the Breast Imaging Centre at the University Hospital of Northern British Columbia (UHNBC) in Prince George, BC.
Emma has been working as a technologist for the past 14 years. When she’s not saving lives, Emma enjoys spending time with her two beautiful daughters aged 8 and 10.
“I've always been interested in a career in the medical field. I had an x-ray as a teenager and that really sparked my interest,” says Emma. “At the time, I had no idea that mammography was where I would land, nor did I even realize it was part of x-ray, but I’m glad I did. After several years of working in general radiology, I felt compelled to add variety to my job and further my education. I had the opportunity to train in mammography and that's when I realized I had found my niche. Mammography is so much more personal, and I feel so much more connected to my patients now.”
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women in British Columbia. One in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, and sadly, one in 28 women are expected to die from the disease. Screening mammography is the best test to routinely detect breast cancer and reduce the chance of death for those who don’t have symptoms. Mammograms can find lumps two or three years before you or your health care provider can feel them; finding cancer when it’s small allows for more treatment options and a better chance at recovery.
“What’s most rewarding for me is the relationships I get to build with my patients,” says Emma. “I see these women year after year for their screening mammograms, and for some, their breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Unfortunately, breast cancer hits close to home for me and my family. I can empathize with how scary this all can be. But I’m proud to be a familiar face, a comforting touch, a listening ear, and a source for reliable information for women during this sensitive time. I know it makes a difference in their journey.”
“As technologists, we’re highly trained, enjoy interacting with our patients, and do our best to make having a mammogram a comfortable and positive experience,” she adds. “The question I get the most is about whether the procedure is painful. I tell my patients they should only feel a bit of pressure during the exam – not pain. You’re in control. And the amount of compression required to get a good-quality image is probably not as much as you think. When the exam’s over, most people say, ‘You were right! That wasn't as bad as I expected.’”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, breast screening continues to be safe and effective. To learn more about the policies and procedures in place to keep patients and staff safe, visit screening bc.