Breast cancer awareness, experiences, and journeys among our ExamOne colleagues

According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers. Currently, there are more than 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.

With those kinds of statistics, there is a high probability that someone you know or love, or maybe even yourself, has been or will be impacted by breast cancer. At ExamOne, there are many in our employee family who have experienced this impact first-hand. To help raise awareness, we are sharing some of those stories of their personal journeys and how others have stepped up to help.

Nothing prepares you for the diagnosis

Annette Mitchell, ExamOne’s recently appointed Executive Director for Commercial, has held several roles within Quest Diagnostics including the National Sales Director of Molecular Oncology. With her extensive healthcare experience, she felt like she was well-educated and informed about breast cancer. She followed the appropriate mammogram timeline and screening guidelines. Her diligence resulted in finding a lump in 2019. In the process of evaluating that lump, it was ruled out as benign, but another mass was discovered, biopsied, and determined cancerous. 

“My experience with molecular oncology gave me the knowledge to ask the right questions to my oncologist and surgeon. But when I was waiting for my genetic testing results that would determine the type of surgery I would have, I was just like any other patient. I nervously refreshed my MyQuest app hourly until my results came in. When no mutations were found, I was filled with relief. Then I could move forward in my breast cancer journey with a lumpectomy and subsequent radiation treatments,” said Annette.

There is a good probability that you or someone you know will be impacted by breast cancer: 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Two years ago, it was Annette. “It helps humanize the disease when you know someone who has battled it and won. So, I have been very open with friends, family, coworkers, and on social media about my diagnosis and treatments. I tell everyone to do their self-exams and don’t put off their mammograms!” said Annette.

Become familiar with the CDC’s breast cancer screening guidelines for women based on age and risk.

Making miles matter

After her mother-in-law died of breast cancer, Betsy Sears, Executive Vice President of Laboratory Strategy and Sales, committed to doing whatever she could to help raise money for breast cancer research and raise awareness about the disease that robbed her two sons of an adoring grandmother. Since 2005, Betsy has walked 900 miles at 15 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Walks across the country. She has made those miles matter by raising more than $180,000 on her own and $510,000 total with her team.

“I keep walking because people I love and care about are still being diagnosed,” said Betsy.

Betsy urges women to do monthly self-exams and get regular health screenings. “The vast majority of happy-ending breast cancer cases are those that are detected early. Please get screened!” said Betsy. According to The John Hopkins Medical Center, 40% of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.

Find out how to do monthly self-exams from National Breast Cancer Foundation here.

A current journey of hope and healing

In February 2021, Lesa Napolitan, Health and Life Sciences Strategic Account Executive, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her treatments began almost immediately, and she just finished her chemotherapy and radiation in September.  Lesa keeps a positive attitude with the support of her family, friends, and coworkers. When times get tough, this support system has given her strength.

“The outpouring of love and support has been the most overwhelming part of my journey. I‘m grateful for that because I believe having a positive attitude is one of the most important things you can do for yourself,” said Lesa.

Lesa urges others to be educated about breast cancer and treatment options. At 39, an irregular mammogram initiated further screenings. She was given a choice to wait 6 months or get a biopsy immediately. She chose the biopsy which detected her cancer. “I am thankful I chose to have a biopsy instead of waiting 6 months to compare images because my type of breast cancer grows more aggressively.  I have a twin and after my diagnosis, she went for her first mammogram. Thankfully she was clear. My story would probably be very different had I chosen to wait 6 months.”

Quest Diagnostics has an online quiz that you can take to find out your risk for hereditary breast cancer.

Always an advocate, now with more appreciation

Carla Wiseman, Strategic Account Executive, is an active member of our Quest local charity employee group, QuestCAN, and heads our community involvement activities for the Women in Leadership group. She has helped coordinate our American Cancer Society (ACS) Making Strides Against Breast Cancer sponsorships in Kansas City for the past 6 years. Last year, her efforts became even more meaningful when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I’ve always enjoyed giving back to ACS, but now I really know the importance of the programs and support ACS provides,” said Carla.

“My mom had a successful experience, and we are so thankful. But I know the fear and anxiety that her diagnosis caused. Thousands get that scary report every day. The more we can do to help make sure more people are screened and treated, the more moms, like mine, get to be here longer with their loved ones.”

You can still support or join Carla and the Quest and ExamOne team for the walk this year.

Putting “fun” into fundraising

Since March 2020, ExamOne Sales, Account Managers, and Marketing have been working from home. In the past, the majority of the fundraising for our community charities happened onsite at our laboratory in Lenexa, KS. Last year, when it came time to raise money for the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, these teams still found a way to raise money and have fun. A request was made to make online donations and if the goal was met, John Reynolds, Senior Vice President of Health Data Insights division for ExamOne, would have to dress up in an all-pink outfit with a wig, glasses, and feather boa and conduct the weekly video call with these groups. The team rose to the challenge and raised 5 times the initial goal! And John looked fabulous on the call. The creative effort was featured on the Kansas City American Cancer Society social media.