Meet Mammography Section Leader - Elaine Brooks
Elaine Brooks, Mammography Section Leader | Waynesboro Hospital
Years worked: 24 at Waynesboro Hospital
Family: Two sons – Joe and Mike
Hometown: Traveled with Navy father; started in Maine and ended up in Waynesboro
Current town: Waynesboro, PA
Education: Received certification from Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, Maine
Why did you decide to make a career in medicine?
I like to take care of people. I’ve always been a motherly type so medicine seemed like the right decision for me.
I got into mammography specifically after both my mother and my grandmother developed breast cancer and I watched what they went through. For me, this job is an opportunity to help women fight the disease and to gain knowledge about breast health.
Can you share a little about what field you specialize in?
What people often don’t realize is that every woman is at risk for developing breast cancer whether she has a family history or not simply because she is a woman.
Fortunately, most cases are benign. However, women still fear that they’ll come into our office for their regular mammogram, need a biopsy and be told they’ve developed cancer.
We’re here to help though. If you’re coming to us for your regular mammogram, we can catch it early. In most cases, you’ll go on to live a healthy, normal life.
What changes have you seen pertaining to breast cancer and its treatment since you began your career?
I’ve seen a lot of changes not only on the technical side of things, but also on the perception of breast cancer and breast health.
The stigma has changed a lot, which is helped greatly with October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month. When I first started, you could barely say breast in public and now we see bumper stickers exclaiming “Save the Ta-Tas!” Young women are taught at an early age to check their breasts and be aware of any changes.
We’ve also seen technology greatly improve the way we do our job. It’s so much easier to see through the tissue now, reducing some of that discomfort during a mammogram and also increasing detection.
We also have better treatments that come as a wide range of options. Previously, if a woman had a lump it meant having to remove the breast. Now, you don’t have to lose your breasts. We have treatment options.
What are some common concerns women have about breast cancer?
The biggest fear is the pain associated with getting a mammogram. It’s a huge perception that keeps women away.
Our job though is to keep you healthy and work with you at your comfort level. If you come for a mammogram that is so painful you never come back, then we haven’t done our job properly.
Secondly, women are always concerned that any issue is going to be cancer. Most cases though are benign and catching breast cancer early is the best defense.
How do you dispel those fears?
I try to talk to my patients like they’re one of my girlfriends, carry on a conversation with them, try to help ease their mind about the procedure.
It’s important when I’m in the exam room that I work with them, their needs, and their comfort level so that every patient is healthy, happy and safe. Our goal is to get a good image without scaring the patient.
If something is found in the image, then naturally, I’m going to reassure them, let them know that most cases are benign and educate them on the next steps of the procedure.
Why is breast cancer awareness important?
This is a chance for women to work together as a team against the disease. Women are so busy taking care of other people or meeting the demands of their life, that having a dedicated time to breast cancer awareness in October makes it hard to forget.
It’s a chance to remind women they need their annual mammogram and encourage others to get one for the first time. It’s women encouraging women to be healthy and aware.
It’s not a disease you have to die from and we’re here for you every step of the way. Anyone who needs more information or wants to talk can call me or one of our nurses and we’ll gladly talk to them.
What advice can you provide for the populace about breast cancer
(Either prevention or treatment)?
Breast cancer can’t be prevented, but early detection is the best protection. You’ll hear that over and over again, especially this month, but it’s true.
For more information or to schedule your mammogram at Waynesboro Hospital, call (717) 765-3404
All Mammogram Locations
Rhonda Brake Shreiner Women's Center | M-Th 6:30 am - 8 pm & Fri 6:30 am - 4 pm
John L. Grove Medical Center | M-F 7:15 am - 4 pm | By appointment only
Shippensburg Medical Campus | M/W 7 am - 6:30 pm & Tues/Th/F 7 am - 1:30 pm
Waynesboro Hospital | M-F 7:15 am - 4:00 pm | By appointment only