When Kristen Hampton, a reporter for WBTV in Charlotte, decided to get a mammogram on the air last month, she thought she was only doing it to help women see that getting one wasn’t that scary at all. While she was hoping to save lives, she never believed one of those lives might have been her own.
Hampton has been WBTV’s “Good News” reporter since 2009. On October 16, she had a brainstorm–record herself having a mammogram. Although she is only 35, she wanted to show Charlotte-area women that mammograms aren’t nearly as frightening as some people make them out to be.
This was actually very personal for Hampton. Almost three years ago, one of her longtime friends, Angela Webb, died at the age of 44 from Stage III breast cancer that spread all the way to her brain. She would likely still be alive had she not been skittish about getting a mammogram. According to Hampton, had Webb gone for a mammogram sooner, her cancer would have likely been caught at Stage I. Hampton went in for her own mammogram soon after she pitched the idea to her coworkers, not thinking much of it.
The following Tuesday, she got some unnerving news. The mammogram had flagged a two-centimeter mass on Hampton’s left breast, and there was a possibility it might have been cancerous. The “architectural distortion,” as they called it, was shaped a like a bat. Hampton went in for a second mammogram, as well as an ultrasound. The results took three days to come back, which Hampton described as “hell.”
A biopsy found that the mass wasn’t cancerous. However, it was rare enough that doctors thought it could be hiding something. According to Matthew Gromet, Charlotte Radiology’s mammography chief, Hampton had a “radial scar,” a mass that may harbor cancer even if it isn’t cancerous itself. There’s only a 10 to 30 percent chance that such a scar is malignant–but those odds are high enough that it has to be removed.
Hampton is going in to have the mass removed on November 17. Her message is simple–“early detection SAVES LIVES.” If you’re a woman who is 40 or over, you need to get a mammogram and get one soon. If you’re under 40, like Hampton is, you need to talk with your doctor about possible risk factors that suggest that you need to get a mammogram sooner.