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Relay for Life: Laurel breast cancer survivor shares her story

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Posted at 5:57 PM, Jul 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-08 11:33:51-04

LAUREL — Relay for Life is on Friday in Billings, and one breast cancer survivor wants to share her story on the importance of getting mammograms and how one saved her life.

Even before she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Vonni Bray of Laurel knew how significant it is to get screened.

“My mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer twice and we lost her to that in 2000,” said Bray on Thursday.

Bray started getting mammograms through St. Vincent Healthcare’s mobile mammography bus 12 years ago. All was well until her appointment last June.

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“Several weeks later I ended up getting a letter saying that they saw something that needed a closer look,” said Bray, who is in her early 50s.

She then received a diagnostic mammogram where doctors saw a mass in her breasts.

“They did a biopsy then and I was told that I had cancer,” Bray said.

A few weeks later, Bray underwent a lumpectomy where surgeons removed abnormal tissue from her breasts.

“They made it so easy. They walked me through every single step,” said Bray.

Now one year later, Bray is cancer-free.

“The option of the mobile mammography bus is all about convenience and ease of getting that early detection,” said Bray.

She says each mammogram appointment she’s had took no more than 15 minutes.

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The Mammocoach has been around since 2010 and travels all over the state.

Pam Kaufman is the manager of St. Vincent Healthcare’s breast imaging center and the Mammocoach.

“We go a 300-mile radius, and we add more sites every year,” said Kaufman.

The Mammocoach travels to 65 sites around the area, focusing on rural communities that don’t have easy access to healthcare.

“The new patients that we do are so shocked at how easy and convenient it is and that we would even take the time to come to their community. They’re so appreciative,” said Kaufman.

The Mammocoach will be in Billings Friday for Relay for Life.

“We will be at the Cancer Centers of Montana all day doing mammograms,” Kaufman said.

Bray hopes more women will get screened yearly. Her mammogram saved her life and she hopes early detection can save other lives as well.

“It’s such a simple, simple thing that you can do. Especially with the ease and convenience of the bus. There’s really no excuse,” said Bray.