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In honor of her grandmother: Ella’s first mammogram

By The Health News Team | October 25, 2023
Ella Jones of San Diego pictured with her grandmother

Ella Jones (left) and Ella as a child (right) with her beloved grandmother, who lost her life to breast cancer in 2019.

Fiorella “Ella” Jones, age 42 and a mother of two, has witnessed the devastating impact of breast cancer firsthand. Three generations on the maternal side of her family have been affected by breast cancer. Earlier this year, the disease took the life of her close friend.

Fearing she might receive the same diagnosis that has touched so many women in her life, Ella delayed scheduling her first screening mammogram for years.

“I felt a sense of impending doom, like my body was a ticking time bomb,” she says. “I was reminded to get screened at every doctor’s appointment, but I was terrified of what they might find.”

In June, however, something changed for Ella. She summoned the strength to face her fears and got her first mammogram. The heartfelt care and compassion she received from Faye Carmona, a Sharp Rees-Stealy mammographer, made all the difference.

The fear of the unknown

As a health care provider, Ella was well aware of the importance of mammograms. Her reluctance to get screened, she says, stemmed from her family history. Ella’s mother, grandmother and great-grandmother have all had breast cancer.

Her grandmother, Bambina, was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer when Ella was young. After undergoing a mastectomy, she remained cancer-free for years. Decades later, the disease returned. This time, it was Stage 4 cancer and had spread throughout her body.

In 2019, her grandmother — her best friend — lost her life to breast cancer.

“I was devastated,” Ella shares. “This was the woman who raised me. She was my protector, my everything, which is why her loss is so devastating.”

Realizing that procrastination could be the riskiest choice, Ella decided it was time to take the first step. “I knew I couldn’t wait any longer,” she says. “If I did, I might be past the point of beating it.”

Courage and compassionate care

On the day of her mammogram — a day she had long dreaded — Ella arrived at Sharp Rees-Stealy Chula Vista feeling nervous. “I had agonized and prayed for the strength to finally have a mammogram done,” she says. “It took a lot for me to even walk through those doors.”

Then, Ella met Carmona, whose warmth and compassion eased her worries. Carmona wasn't just an expert technologist; she also became a reassuring presence for Ella.

“When Ella came in, she was scared and teary-eyed because of her family history and losing loved ones to breast cancer,” Carmona says. “I reassured her and even shared my own personal experiences getting screened.”

Ella Jones of San Diego

Faye Carmona, a mammographer with Sharp Rees-Stealy, eased Ella's nerves with her warmth and compassion.

Before even starting, Carmona prepared Ella for exactly what was going to happen. “She braced me for every step that I was going to have to take, and she did it in the most patient, calm and loving way,” Ella says. “She supported me as though we were family.”

Ella says she even felt her grandmother’s presence in the room and felt comforted knowing her guardian angel was watching over her.

A new beginning

In Carmona, Ella found not just a health care provider, but someone who understood her fears and lifted a burden she had carried since her grandmother passed. “I left my appointment knowing that even if they did find something, it was going to be fine because I would have people at Sharp like Faye caring for me,” she says.

Thankfully, Ella’s mammogram screening was clear. She says her experience at Sharp has changed the curvature of her life and given her a new sense of freedom.

“The fear of the diagnosis doesn’t rule over me anymore,” Ella says. “Whatever the future holds, even if it’s the worst-case scenario, I know I’ll get the best care. I found my team at Sharp.”

Ella hopes to inspire others to overcome their fears and prioritize their health. "Don't allow your fear to get in your way,” she says. “The earlier the cancer is detected, the better chance you have of beating it."

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