Breast cancer survivor launches campaign for new hospital equipment

Carolyn Crampton has had a long career in the medical field, so she knew what to expect when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Carolyn Crampton has had a long career in the medical field, so she knew what to expect when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Crampton, a retired ultrasound technician who worked in breast imaging, said it all shows people just don’t know what’s going to happen with their health.

In total, the 57-year-old worked for Island Health for 25 years before retiring three weeks ago. Her work in breast imaging came at Victoria General Hospital, the Island’s referral center for mammograms and women’s health, and she found the field to match her personality.

“There’s a lot of teaching and counseling on top of doing the actual testing, and that was fine with me.”

Crampton’s case unfolded five years ago when she noticed an abnormality, a dimple or puckering, on one of her breasts.

“I knew it was a sign that you needed to get things checked out, so I did,” she said. It turned out to be cancer.

She said her condition didn’t show up on her regular mammograms because her breasts are dense. Tissue fibers can overlap in dense breasts and keep things hidden, Crampton said.

This is where the work of the Victoria Hospitals Foundation comes in, she said. The foundations come out stronger Countryside raises $10 million for over 200 pieces of equipment that have been prioritized for Victoria General, Royal Jubilee and Gorge Road hospitals.

“Now they’re getting some foundation-funded equipment, and it’s a mammogram that will help solve the breast density issue,” she said. “It’s a pretty hot topic right now for women, their breast density, because it’s unique for each person.

“Women are very curious about their own breast density and what is the best way to monitor their own breasts.”

Crampton’s cancer was diagnosed by radiologist Dr. Brent Lee using an ultrasound and biopsy. After that, Dr Alison Ross performed a lumpectomy – also called a partial mastectomy – and also removed a lymph node from an armpit to check for spread. There were none.

“So I was lucky that I didn’t have to go through chemotherapy,” said Crampton, who has had four weeks of radiation therapy and takes a hormone-blocking drug. “I think I got away with it pretty easily.”

Equipment funded by the Victoria Hospitals Foundation includes a $31,000 high-resolution mammography monitor, an $87,000 ultrasound machine and $99,000 computer-assisted breast imaging detection software.

The software allows radiologists to use MRI scans to diagnose breast cancers that are small and early stage. “It helps them read a breast MRI, which is really important,” Crampton said.

She said the high-resolution monitor would help read mammograms.

Just because her cancer was missed doesn’t mean mammograms aren’t needed every other year, Crampton said.

“It’s the very first step in the investigation, a mammogram,” she said. “You want to see changes over time.”

To donate to the Emerge Stronger campaign, go to the Hospitals of Victoria Foundation website at victoriahf.ca or call 250-519-1750.

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Lillian L. Pena