Three-time cancer survivor Katharine Chaney-Jones advises women to stay up-to-date with mammograms Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

Like many people, three-time cancer survivor Katharine Chaney-Jones fell behind in her preventative health care schedule during the pandemic. She was met with devastating news when she eventually had a mammogram conducted. 

“I was afraid,” Chaney-Jones said Friday. “I finally scheduled it for this spring in 2022 and when I came in for my diagnostic mammogram, I discovered that I had cancer again. It was my third. Very overwhelming and very devastating because I had postponed and the cost of waiting played a part in it.”

Chaney-Jones, who spoke at Breast Cancer Awareness Month event at Bloomfield’s Jefferson Radiology, was happy to report she was once again cancer free, but she cautioned other women against procrastinating when it comes to cancer screening. 

“My message to everyone is that getting cancer does not mean that you have to die unless you wait too long. So anyone and everyone who is listening to my story today, I encourage you to get your mammograms,” she said. “Do what you have to do to live.”

Dr. Diana James, a radiologist, said Chaney-Jones’ experience was unusual in that most people who come in for screening do not receive such upsetting news.

“Most of the time your mammogram is going to be normal — the vast majority of the time. So there’s really no reason to put off that test because you’re worried about it. Just get it,” she said.

Jones and other health officials at Friday’s event urged women, particularly those between 50 and 74 years old, to stay up-to-date with their appointments aimed at identifying breast cancer, which she said remains the most common type of cancer found in Connecticut women.

James also said that Chaney-Jones was not alone in putting off her appointments. 

“COVID-19 has disrupted our lives in many ways and unfortunately we’re now learning that another thing that is disrupted is our ways that we fight cancer, which is going in for regular screening appointments,” James said. 

Doctors have reported patients delaying mammograms, colonoscopies and other screening procedures, she said. 

“Patients just haven’t been going back to their primary care doctors and getting those important appointments. So what’s the result of that? We’ve actually found out that unfortunately with breast cancer in particular, patients come now at a later stage which means they need more treatment, now they have involved lymph nodes, they need chemotherapy, their cure rate isn’t as good,” James said. “We need to get back to that early detection.”