Dee Hughes: health "care" - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dee Hughes: health "care"

by Sunny Layne

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- As you've probably heard, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. One eastern Iowa woman has worked nearly three decades to help women prevent and detect the disease, always with a smile. Dee Hughes is someone you should know.

"Hi Doris, I'm Dee," mammographer Dee Hughes said as she introduced herself to a patient. 

For nearly 30 years, Hughes has performed mammograms at Allen hospital in Waterloo.

"Dee is very compassionate," friend and patient Tami Johnson said. "She is a personal and loving warm person."

Patients say Hughes puts "care" into healthcare.

"I see patients year after year and I develop a relationship with them," Hughes said. "So they feel I actually care about them."

Hughes says when women like Doris Holmes come in, they find the experience more pleasant than they thought.

"I've been doing it all these years," Holmes said. "I don't mind getting it done."

This longtime healthcare worker says she's passionate about helping women prevent the disease, because breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, 80% of cases come from women with no family history of the illness, and women of all ages can get it.

"Locally the youngest I know personally was 21," Hughes said.

Hospitals used to use film screen mammography which produced fairly cloudy images, but now with cutting-edge digital mammography, doctors can find pictures much clearer.

"They said, 'Oh wow! I can't believe the difference,'" Hughes said. "They wouldn't give it up now. They love the digital."

Going beyond her duties as lead mammographer, Hughes volunteers as president of the Beyond Pink Team, a breast cancer education and support group.

"You see them diagnosed, and so you want to do more," she said.

"They keep coming back," Johnson said. "It's like a family member."

Some good news, 95% of breast cancer patients respond well to treatment.  And with people like Dee Hughes, women might even look forward to their mammograms.

"If it's going to save a life, give you a heads up on early detection, it's well worth it," Holmes said.

Dee Hughes, turning healthcare into health with care.

Hughes says all women age 40 and older should get a mammogram each year. Women in Blackhawk County with no health insurance can receive free mammograms and pap smears if they qualify for the "Care for yourself program." That number is 319-292-2225.

Online Reporter: Sunny Layne

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