Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wisdom, Courtesy of Linda Jessee Mills

Can you think of anybody who has worn a pair of shoes for fifteen years? Linda Jessee Mills has done that. Linda, from Georgia, is many things to many people. She is a mother and grandmother, a nurse, and a fifteen-year survivor of breast cancer. Her shoes have carried her down a long and winding road, which she has traveled with wisdom, grace, and humor. And, if her niece, Erin, is asked to describe her Aunt Linda, she'll do it with a single word -- "amazing!"

"She’s the only person I know," Erin says, "who can reminisce about those experiences and have us all laughing hysterically in the process . . . most of us would’ve been crying and shaking our fists at the sky."

Linda would agree that mammograms are one of the most important tools available for prevention and early detection of breast cancer. She had her first annual mammogram at age 32, but it was the one performed in the year of her 43rd birthday that likely saved her life. Through that test, Linda's early breast cancer was detected. Ultimately, her course of treatment included surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. But, to Linda, submitting to annual mammograms was paramount to her survival.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) supports Linda's position. The ACS recommends that women age 40 and older should have a screening mammogram every year, and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health. Click here to watch the site's excellent video about the important role mammograms play in the early detection of breast cancer.

Recently, however, some evidence exists that the number of women who follow this advice is decreasing. One of the primary reasons for the decline includes the cost of mammograms for those who are not covered by insurance. If mammogram costs are a hindrance to you, call your local health department, or the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 for information about facilities in your area that perform the tests at low or no cost. The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) also provides breast and cervical cancer early detection testing to women without health insurance for free or at very little cost. To learn more about this program, please contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at 1-800-CDC INFO (1-800-232-4636) or visit their Web site at With help from these agencies, cost is not an obstacle. GET A MAMMOGRAM.

For those who are more fortunate and don't have to worry about covering the cost of a mammogram, visit The Breast Cancer Site. On the first page, a button will appear that looks like the one to the left. Click on it. That's all there is to it! Each time the button is clicked, advertisements from site sponsors are displayed. All of the money from these advertisers goes to the site's charity partners, who fund programs to provide mammograms to women in need. How easy is that?

A second primary reason women hesitate to undergo mammograms concerns discomfort involved in the procedure. In response to those worries, Linda Jessee Mills can offer a few words of wisdom.

I believe that regular mammograms save lives. I am almost 60 now and have been blessed with an additional 16 years. As a nurse I was constantly hearing patients say that the mammograms hurt, to which I replied.....really....well in my "expert opinion" , it's a lot more uncomfortable to have your breast removed and undergo therapy.....all that with a smile....of course. Mammograms are a must for women....insist on them and encourage your daughters to discuss the need for early screening with their physicians.

Other types of preparation can minimize discomfort during the procedure. For example, don't schedule a mammogram during the week prior to or during menstruation. Also, having accurate information about what to expect will alleviate some of the discomfort caused by anxiety of the unknown. A very informative interview appears below with Dr. Kenneth W. Chin, whose credentials include being named “Teacher of the Year” five times by the Department of Radiology at UCLA Medical Center. Dr. Chin also served as President of the Los Angeles and California Radiological Societies as well as holding the honor of fellowship of the American College of Radiology. Today, he continues to help change and improve the field of radiology, and he certainly understands mammography. (If the interview doesn't play for you, find it here.)

Tomorrow, I will borrow Linda Jessee Mills' fifteen-year-old shoes. I already know they won't fit. They are filled with too much wisdom, grace, and humor for them to accommodate my feet. But, I will carry them with me across the next mile to demonstrate my admiration for the wisdom she shares and the inspiration she imparts to others. So, for you, Linda ... here's to the next mile!

And by the way, Linda is now in the business of surviving colon cancer. Her words of advice on that subject? "Get a screening can possibly save yourself a lot of grief!!!" At some point in the future, Linda, I'll be asking to borrow those shoes, too....


  1. Aunt Linda IS amazing! :)

    Thanks, Chris, for such a wonderful tribute to her. It brought tears to my eyes, more than once!

  2. *L* Clicking is a very good thing! Thank you!

  3. Hey everyone...that's my Aunt Linda! She rocks!


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