“My mom and aunt also had breast cancer, so I always kind of expected it,” Doss said. “But I didn’t expect it so soon.”
Doss has worked as a mammogram tech at Renown Breast Health Center for nearly eight years, and said her cancer was discovered about three years ago when the center installed new digital mammography machines.
“I had a screening mammogram — the first screening since we went digital — and saw something on the film that looked a little strange,” Doss said.
At first, Doss said she thought it might just look different because new technology was being used to obtain the images, but chose to go forward with an ultrasound and then a biopsy.
“It turned out to be cancer,” she said. “We were all kind of surprised.”
Doss opted to have a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction, which she said was done all at once, but when a very small amount of cancer was found in a lymph node, she had to go under the knife again.
“They took me back into surgery the next morning and took out all the rest of my lymph nodes,” Doss said. “Then I had chemotherapy every three weeks for four treatments.”
Even though Doss sees a lot of women who survive breast cancer in her profession, she said being diagnosed herself posed some disturbing questions. Although the cancer was in just one breast, she opted to have them both removed to avoid a lifetime of biopsies in the second breast.
“Part of me wondered when I would get it again,” she said, adding the bilateral mastectomy would alleviate those fears.
“I spoke with my husband and told him what I wanted to do,” she said, “and he was very supportive.”
Doss has been cancer-free since completing chemotherapy three years ago, and continues to screen patients at Renown.
“We can’t stop women from getting breast cancer,” she said. “All we can do is catch it early so the treatment can be less severe.”
Fran Burhans, supervisor of Renown Breast Health Center, said a baseline mammogram is recommended for women at age 35. Women age 40 and older are urged to have a screening every year, she said.
Renown Breast Health Center is certified as a center of excellence and has the latest technology to detect the smallest cancers, a press release states.
The center contains three patient rooms with digital mammography machines, MRI-guided breast biopsy technology and the region’s only SonoCine ultrasound machine, which detects problem areas in dense breast tissue, the release states.
Located at 901 E. Second St. in Reno, the breast health center recently underwent renovations, and to celebrate, free breast cancer survivor ornaments are being given to those who visit the newly renovated space.
“The space hadn’t been renovated for a while,” Renown spokesman Daniel Davis said. “We did this as a way to reiterate that we are committed to excellence and to our patients.”
To learn more and view survivor stories, visit renown.org/inspire.