Breast Cancer Survivor Shares Important Message with Women

KNOXVILLE, IA – There are more than 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States and Cindy Dilliner is one of them.

At the urging of her daughter and her family doctor, Knoxville Hospital & Clinics’ (KHC) provider Dr. Marty Errthum, Dilliner had her first mammogram done last summer at KHC. Having met Mammography Tech Angela Lund before, Dilliner was comfortable knowing she was in good hands.

“I had procrastinated several years about getting the test, but you should never put off getting a mammogram because you are worried about it,” said Dilliner. “I was in and out in a few minutes and the first thing I told my daughter when I got home was how easy it was and how unbelievable it is that we scare ourselves out of getting tested.”

A few days later, Dilliner received the phone call that her mammogram showed a cluster of calcium deposits in her right breast, and she needed to return to KHC for a more detailed mammogram. Panic immediately set in, but some much needed comfort from Lund helped ease Dilliner’s anxiety. The second mammogram confirmed the deposits, and she was asked to return in six months for a repeat mammogram to check for subtle changes.

Six months later, calcium deposits continued to show on Dilliner’s mammogram, and a needle biopsy was done at MercyOne Comfort Health Center for Women. It confirmed a Ductal carcinoma in-situ (DCIS) breast cancer diagnosis.

What followed next was a blur of meetings with the breast surgical oncologist, genetics testing, an MRI, and surgery on March 31. Because Dilliner’s cancer was contained within the ducts and luckily had not spread into other tissues or the lymph nodes, she chose to have a double mastectomy, resulting in no chemotherapy or radiation required.

“Once you hear the word cancer, it changes you. I have my first official follow-up with the breast surgical oncologist in a few weeks and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. I feel like I will forever worry about a recurrence,” said Dilliner.

According to Dilliner, the best part about living in a small town is that the people who provide our goods and services are also our friends.

“Knowing Angela personally made all the difference in the world through the stages of my diagnosis and treatment.  A friendly voice on the other end of the phone comforting me and answering questions, Facebook messages, and chats in the hallway at KHC.  She made me feel comfortable about the process from day one with everything – from the exams to talking through the diagnosis,” shared Dilliner.

One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Dilliner considers herself one of the lucky ones having conquered the disease.

“There was some denial in the beginning, but after the surgery I connected with several social media support groups, and it really started hitting home about how fortunate I was to have found this early,” said Dilliner.

Women who receive a mammogram at KHC can be comforted knowing they are receiving the highest level of image quality and safety in their examinations. KHC has offered 3D Mammography since October 2019.

 “We have made fantastic strides in breast cancer imaging and screening that has allowed us over the years to find breast cancer earlier, which has really affected the way we have been able to treat women with breast cancer,” said Lund.

Lund stresses that early detection is key to survival and says 3D mammography is one of the most promising diagnostic tools in detecting breast cancer early when it is most curable.

“Approximately 80 to 90% of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history, so early detection of cancer is important. The cutting-edge 3D mammography technology is shown to improve breast cancer detection rates,” said Lund. “3D mammography takes multiple images of the entire breast to see through the layers of breast tissue and examine the areas of concern from all angles. Early detection of breast cancer means faster intervention and improved survival rates.”

 Health professionals recommend women begin annual mammograms at age 40; however, if there is a history of breast cancer in their family, it is suggested women get checked sooner.

Dilliner’s message to women is to make your health a priority.

“I am so lucky. That 10 minutes may have saved my life. Get your mammogram. Please don’t put it off.  A mammogram is such an easy test, usually 100% insurance covered, and so important,” said Dilliner. “It doesn’t take long to look around your family and our community to see the damage cancer can do, how quickly it can spread, and how easily it goes undetected. I can’t say enough about how grateful I am for the extra push I got from home, the support I got from everyone at KHC, MercyOne Comfort Health Center for Women, and MercyOne Katzmann Breast Care Center, my family and close friends. You know it’s not the most comfortable thing you’re going to do, but it’s worth it.”

Knoxville Hospital & Clinics is a non-profit community hospital serving Marion County and the surrounding area. Named a “Top 100 Critical Access Hospital” and voted as Best of Red Rock Area’s “Best Place to Work” and “Best Hospitality”, KHC’s highly skilled medical staff and specialists provide personal, compassionate and innovative quality health care to patients. For more information regarding this release and other happenings at Knoxville Hospital & Clinics, call Public Relations at (641) 842-1485.