URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Doctors and nurses know it can be hard to navigate your next steps when you’re diagnosed with breast cancer. They all know patients have a lot of questions and emotions running through their minds.
At Mills Breast Cancer Institute at Carle in Urbana, two people in particular make it their mission to support patients and families every day.
When you get a mammogram, it’s four pictures that could change your life. Jolene Duckett, the lead technician at Carle, said they give an overall picture of the breast health for the doctor to look at.
“Then if they see anything they would like to look at a little bit closer in each breast, they would call the patient back for some specialized views,” she explained.
That’s when Mabruka Yazidi, a breast imaging nurse navigator, comes in.
“This is one of those positions where I don’t see a lot of people at their best and that’s okay,” she described.
She helps people work through their emotions when they need more testing.
“If on that imaging we see something that needs to be biopsied, I’ll go in with the doctor and we’ll go over the results,” Yazidi said. “I’ll help answer questions. Once the doctor leaves I’ll go over what the procedure entails.”
But more than that, she’s the person patients connect with during what can be the scariest time of their lives.
“Being somebody there, metaphorically, to hold hands. It’s my favorite nursing position I’ve ever had,” she tearfully said.
Yazidi and Duckett work side by side. Duckett said they see about 120 patients a day.
“It’s just a mix of screening mammograms for patients coming in with no problems, have no symptoms,” she said.
But, the medical experts suggest getting one every year no matter what. It’s Duckett’s goal to find cancer small.
“Finding it early is very rewarding,” she said. “It’s also life-changing to go through that with patients too. We’re on the ground floor where they get their results. They’re nervous and they’re having this biopsy done where it can change their life.”
Duckett recommends starting to get annual mammograms at age 40, or even sooner if you have a family history. She said 80% of her patients do not have a family history of breast cancer.