My Path to Mammography & Breast Ultrasound

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Michelle Keck and her journey in mammography
Michelle L. Keck, BSRT RT(R)(M)(BS)

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How It All Began

So, If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times…”I can’t believe you do this all day!” or “I bet this isn’t what you thought you’d be doing when you grew up”. Sometimes I will respond, and sometimes I don’t say much at all. Honestly, no, being a mammographer/sonographer isn’t what I thought I’d be doing when I grew up.  I didn’t decide on radiology until around my senior year in high school.  I loved science, anatomy and physiology, and biology.  In college, I began the fast track straight to getting into X-ray school.  Once there, I knew that I wanted to do mammography.

Why Mammography?…

Sometimes I will answer my patients questions as to why I do this all day. On August 27, 1969, Bonnie Bernice Eberly, 47 years old, passed away from metastatic breast cancer. She left behind a husband and 3 kids ages 17, 11, and 9. Little did she know that she would later have grandchildren and great grandchildren that never had the joy of meeting her. Her oldest granddaughter decided that she wanted to help give the gift of family to others and became a mammographer at the young age of 25, with the goal of helping others get to meet and know their grandchildren.

We have come so far since 1969 and our technology is amazing. We are seeing the tiniest of areas so much sooner and helping to save lives.

Breast Ultrasound Too?

Yep, I love to learn new things! Mammography is the gold standard in the early detection of breast cancer, however, breast ultrasound is an incredible tool as well. I knew that I wanted to do breast ultrasound to see questionable areas in a different way, to evaluate the tissue with a different modality. Knowing mammography is a huge bonus when scanning a breast with ultrasound. It gave me even more ability to help those patients in evaluating and determining the structure of the area in question.

After 20 years in mammography and 7 years in breast ultrasound, I can say that this path I’ve been on has been very rewarding and humbling. I will likely not ever know what part I’ve played in helping generations of people get to know each other and share memories, but if it’s even just one, then it has all been worth it.

As a mammographer, I never stop learning. Whether it’s from my patients or through continuing education classes, mammography is an evolving field with changing technology. Throughout the years, I have learned and experienced many things, and I go over them in my classes: Imaging and Staging Breast Cancer and Pearls of Wisdom in Mammography 2.0. I hope to see you in one of my classes soon!

Authors

  • Michelle Keck, BSRT, RT(R)(M)(BS), is a registered mammographer and registered sonographer. She performs screening and diagnostic mammograms and stereotactic biopsies. She has performed diagnostic and Automated Whole Breast ultrasound as well. Michelle teaches many courses for AHEC. Her passion for mammography excellence carries over in her fundraising and participation in research to find other ways to detect breast cancer early.

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