Now she encourages others to have their annual exams
This article appeared in our Spring 2013 Update publication.
Hilda Gray is a strong proponent of mammograms. The South Royalton resident has had one every year at her community hospital, Gifford Medical Center.
Last year was the first time this active grandmother got some unsettling news, however.
A small lesion in her left breast was found and merited further study. Gifford Patient Care Navigator Brittany Kelton scheduled all of Hilda’s follow-up care and was at her side during each appointment.
A diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound were performed and then an ultrasound-guided biopsy was done right in the Radiology Department.
At first, Hilda didn’t want the biopsy. “I wasn’t too thrilled about that,” she says. Her family, however, was insistent. “‘Momma, you’re going to have the biopsy and that is all there is to it,’” Hilda recalls one of her daughters saying.
On the day radiologist Dr. Scott Smith delivered the news that the small mass was indeed breast cancer, three of Hilda’s children and her husband, Robert Gray Sr., were at her side.
Dr. Smith “took the whole family in the office and explained to everybody. He didn’t try to hurry you out. He wanted to make sure all of our questions were answered,” Robert recalls.
A lumpectomy, surgery to remove the mass, was the next step. This time, Hilda was fearless. “If its something that’s got to be done, it’s got to be done,” she recalls saying at the time.
She also had every confidence in the general surgeon who would operate – Dr. Maury Smith. “To Dr. Smith, you are a person, not just a patient,” says Robert.
This time with Robert, all four of her children and their spouses with her, Hilda returned to Gifford last fall for surgery to remove the cancer. A follow-up mammogram earlier this year found no additional lesions, says a happy, cancer-free Hilda.
“I feel like the hospital did wonderful by me,” she says, encouraging others to have their annual mammograms.
“Just do it,” she says. “If I hadn’t gone, I would never have known it was there. I really think it’s something women should do every year.”