Lisa Taaca believes in giving back to her community and when she learned about the incredible work being done by the team at Tough Enough to Wear Pink, she knew she wanted to be involved. Lisa began volunteering for the non-profit in 2013 and was involved in helping to raise money to purchase the 3D tomosynthesis mammography machine for Gunnison Valley Health. Lisa saw the benefit of the improved technology and she and her husband also became donors. What Lisa didn’t realize was the mammography machine she was helping to fund would be lifesaving for her.
3D tomosynthesis is the gold standard for breast imaging technology. By taking multiple images of breast tissue to recreate a 3D picture, tumors and cancer clusters can be more readily identified, especially in dense breast tissue. The process of a 3D mammography exam is the same as your conventional 2D exam. The technologist will position you, compress your breast, and take images from different angles. There is no additional compression required with 3D mammography exam, and it only takes a few extra seconds for an exam, proven to be more accurate.
Lisa went to GVH for her routine screening mammogram in August of 2019 and was told the exam yielded abnormal results. The radiologist ordered a second mammogram and recommended an ultrasound. What the radiologist identified was a nodule in Lisa’s left breast.
At the time Lisa received her diagnosis, she was in the process of moving to Arizona for the winter season. Because there was so much travel required for the move and now her medical appointments, Lisa chose to have her biopsy and eventual lumpectomy performed in Denver.
When she reflects on the experience now, she is grateful for the collaboration that the Gunnison Valley Health Cancer Care team had with her Front Range providers. The radiologist at Gunnison Valley Health connected her with Invision Sally Jobe for imaging, a doctor specializing in brachytherapy in Arizona and Gunnison Valley Health’s Oncologist, Dr. Paulette Blanchet, provided her after care.
Recently, Lisa celebrated three years of being cancer free. As she reflected on her journey, it drove home the importance of having the right resources available locally.
“Following my diagnosis my doctors told me that because my nodule was so deep in my chest wall it would have been missed for years if my annual mammograms were done on a 2D machine,” Lisa said. “The 3D machine that Tough Enough to Wear Pink donated to GVH was the difference between my having a cancer diagnosis of stage one versus stage three or four. The outcome could have been very different”
Lisa’s cancer was found early, removed quickly and she had great outcomes. She is committed to doing what she can to help other women have the same great outcomes.
“Being a breast cancer survivor is like being part of a sisterhood that I didn’t choose,” Lisa said. “I am connected to so many other amazing women and am happy to have the ability to continue supporting the work of Tough Enough to Wear Pink.”