Denise Kauffman

Knowing History, Regular Screenings: Keys to Conquering Breast Cancer

Women with close relatives who have been diagnosed with breast cancer have a higher risk of developing the disease.

For Denise Kauffman, 44, of Richfield, when it came to scheduling mammograms, she began annual screenings before the typical age of 40. Denise’s provider at OB/GYN of Evangelical suggested that she look into an early start by getting a baseline mammogram due to a family history of breast cancer.

“My paternal aunt was diagnosed with a complicated breast cancer at the age of 42; because of that, I started early with mammograms and went every year,” said Denise.

In November 2021, that routine exam showed calcifications, prompting Center for Breast Health staff to give a callback to Denise to take a closer look. 

“I wasn’t worried too much,” said Denise. “I’d had a cyst in the past so I just figured they were being extra cautious.”

After the additional imaging was taken, Denise sat in the waiting area for the results. “That’s when they told me that they wanted to biopsy the spot of concern.”

The biopsy was scheduled the week before Thanksgiving and that Friday Denise got the call. “Michele at the Center was very reassuring when she told me it was cancer, but that it was very treatable, 100% curable.” 

“Denise’s case is a prime example of why mammography continues to be the gold standard for prevention and early treatment of breast cancers,” said John Turner, MD, FACS, Breast Surgeon and Clinical Co-Manager at the Center for Breast Health. 

“We were able to see her cancer early and work to come up with a plan of treatment geared for success. That’s not always the case when regular screening is not done and cancer is found in much later stages. The later in the disease process we go, the rate for successful recovery goes down.”

In early December, Denise went through genetic testing. Dr. Turner used those results, which showed that chances of other cancer categories were negative, to select the best treatment options.

“I was able to do a left breast lumpectomy with radiation and no chemo based on an MRI coupled with the genetic testing results,” said Denise. “I went through with the lumpectomy and had radiation for four weeks, five days a week.”

In April, she was deemed clear of the cancer.

Denise, who lives with her younger sister, Diane, who also began mammograms before the age of 40, both work in healthcare and know the difference that taking control of your health can make. 

“Any time you’re told you have a cancer; it can be scary. When I shared my story at church, several women said it was a good reminder to get scheduled for the screening. It’s important to stay on top of your health.” 

To schedule a mammogram, call the Thyra M. Humphreys Center for Breast Health at 570-522-4200.