CLEVELAND - Diane Scarpelli has learned not to sweat the small stuff. The 55-year-old former school bus driver is just happy to be alive.
"I'm very lucky," she said.
Although she was symptom-free at the time, Scarpelli climbed into a mobile mammogram bus for a breast cancer screening. It turns out she had the disease. That was18 years ago.
"Had I not gone into the van, had I not gone in on early detection, I'd be dead," she said.
Scarpelli's comments came on the same day that Good Morning America's Amy Robach announced that a recent mammogram she underwent solely for the show resulted in a breast cancer diagnosis.
"It's a God wink," Scarpelli said. "She was in the right place at the right time."
Dr. Michael McNamara, Chief of Breast Imaging and Intervention at MetroHealth Medical Center, said for every 1,000 women who are screened, they expect to find about three to seven with cancer. The good news is that the earlier an abnormality is identified, the easier it is for doctors to control it.
"If a cancer is a centimeter or less," he said, "we really expect that 95 percent plus of that group of patients are going to do very well and the cancer will just be a small bump in the road."
McNamara recommends women who have had previous mammograms bring their old records with them to the screening and take an over-the-counter pain reliever if there's any tenderness in the breasts before the test.
"We can't change what life has in store for us but we can be prepared for it," he said. "We can adapt and we can try and head off problems before they become very significant."