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Jennifer Kennedy | Stories from Magee

Mammograms and Covid-19: Finding Answers, Peace of Mind During a Pandemic

When Jennifer Kennedy first spotted the odd bump on her breast in March, she tried not to worry too much — especially with the state on lockdown because of the coronavirus. But with a strong family history of breast and ovarian cancer, she couldn’t ignore it. “It was important for me to get on top of it quickly,” she says.

After four weeks of watching and waiting, she scheduled a telemedicine visit with her primary care doctor, who promptly recommended a mammogram. Four days later, she was on her way to UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital for a diagnostic mammogram.

“I had a lot of anxiety. I was concerned about the bump, and the uncertainty about the coronavirus definitely fueled my fear even more,” says Jennifer, a learning specialist who works at UPMC’s headquarters in Pittsburgh.

But the precautions taken by the staff at UPMC Magee helped ease her mind — including the screening questions asked before her appointment. When she arrived, a nurse stationed at a checkpoint took her temperature and asked additional questions before allowing her to move on to imaging. Although she arrived wearing her own mask — anyone entering the hospital must wear a mask — they also were given out at the checkpoint. Everywhere she looked, there were signs instructing patients to maintain safe spacing and everyone wore a mask, including her mammographer.

“When I saw the degree of care happening all around me, I relaxed,” says Jennifer. “Seeing everyone with a mask on was a point of comfort.”

When Jennifer returned to the hospital six days later for a biopsy, she wasn’t nearly as nervous. “I knew what to expect,” she says. “I felt like an expert.”

She noticed additional safety measures, including using plastic bags instead of lockers for personal items. She was impressed, too, by the pleasant and positive demeanor of the hospital staff. “It was obvious they were doing everything possible to ensure the safety of the patients,” says Jennifer.

Just four days after her biopsy, Jennifer got the news she’d been hoping for: the results were negative for cancer.

“I’m so glad I could get my mammogram so quickly — and that I could get both my mammogram and biopsy results just as quickly,” she says.

Knowledge is empowering, she adds. “If something was there, I wanted to know so I could act quickly. I’m very grateful the mammography team at UPMC Magee could see me, and they had all the processes in place to make patients like me feel safe and comfortable.”