Chris Winn stands with the mammogram machine in the Memorial Hospital.

Photo by Erin Fenner

Chris Winn stands with the mammogram machine in the Memorial Hospital.

Hometown Hero: Chris Winn helps fight breast cancer at TMH

Under her scrubs Chris Winn wears pink almost every day. Her socks, T-shirt and jewelry usually flash rosy hues. Even in simple ways Winn embodies the movement she has devoted 24 years of her life working on.

She works as a mammographer at The Memorial Hospital — performing roughly 80 percent of the mammograms at TMH — and hopes to ensure women catch breast cancer early to stop it in its tracks.

Winn is practical in her efforts against breast cancer. She performs routine mammograms on women to test if women’s breast tissue is healthy and provides them with information they need to take care of their breast health.

It’s not an easy job because patients can feel physically and emotionally uncomfortable. But Winn has been called exceptional in her ability to put women at ease to the point where she is the employee with the most positive comments at the hospital.

One of her greatest strengths is providing empathy and thorough information to patients.

“What’s really important is you need to explain in detail what you’re doing,” she said. “I need to put them at ease.”

She likes to bridge the gap between caretaker and patient by being helpful and considerate.

“We’re working on this together,” she said.

It’s important for women older than age 40 to get yearly mammograms, Winn said, so it is crucial that the experience is as positive as possible.

“We want everybody to have a good experience,” she said.

There’s anxiety in getting a mammogram, Winn said, partly because women are worried about getting a bad result.

“We’re females. We’re always going to be worrying about having a normal mammogram,” she said.

But getting regular mammograms is valuable because it enables women and their doctors to catch problems early if they’re present. Breast cancer always is easier to beat if it’s discovered before it spreads.

“If we catch it early they have a better chance with treatment,” Winn said.

Sitting down with the radiologist and the recently diagnosed patient is the hardest part of being a mammographer, Winn said.

Overall, she said her work is rewarding.

“I think what is satisfying for me is that when I go back and see somebody they’re glad to see me,” she said. “That really is wonderful.”

In 2012, TMH discovered breast cancer in 12 women, said Jennifer Riley, chief of organizational excellence at TMH. Mammograms usually are $350, but TMH offers them at a large discount in the month of October, $80, for breast cancer awareness month.

Erin Fenner can be reached at 970-875-1794 or efenner@craigdailypress.com.

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