Bronx woman helps advance breast cancer screening

Sabitri Jaipersaud.
Courtesy of Montefiore Health System

Ask any medical professional and they will say that the key to toppling breast cancer is early awareness and routine check-ups. Pelham Gardens resident Sabitri Jaipersaud understands that truth first hand.

When the 53-year-old was pregnant over two decades ago, she initially noticed an abnormality on her breast.

“This was a time before the internet became what it is today, there wasn’t so much information, I didn’t know how to go about it,” Sabitri said. Due to her pregnancy, Sabitri could not undergo an x-ray procedure.

She eventually sought help through the Montefiore Health System and a new, innovative mammography-screening program it had introduced called TMIST.

Short for Tomosynthesis Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial, it compares two types of digital mammography: tomosynthesis known as three-dimensional compared to conventional two-dimensional screenings. Sabitri ended up being a pioneer in the test of the newer, 3-D technology. Fortunately, in her case, the abnormality that was found had not been cancerous.

“To be a pioneer in that kind of research and technology is an awesome feeling,” Sabitri said.

Years later, a healthy Sabitri would find herself working in the Montefiore Health System as an operations manager in its Department of Radiology, paying it forward and helping many women in situations similar to her own.

Personally, Sabitri even managed to detect cancer in a personal friend of hers.

“After (my friend) was pregnant, she noticed that she couldn’t breastfeed at all, after a screening we detected the cancer and following an intense year of chemo, the screening saved her life,” Sabitri said. “This is just one of many success stories I’m proud to have seen at Montefiore.

Practicing what she preaches, Sabitri now participates annually in screenings as part of keeping proper breast health.

Another major initiative of Sabitri and the rest of her care team is to spread awareness and information regarding breast cancer and its warning signs.

“I was in a situation where I didn’t have the information that I needed, now we can change that and change lives,” Sabitri said.

Some of that information that she is looking to spread is the steps and tips to self-monitor breast health.

“Self exams are very important, from that point if you notice something abnormal then get a screening,” Sabitri said. “Be aware of abnormal changes in your body, if something is suspicious seek medical attention, the earlier the better,” she added.

Sabitri is also a major advocate that all women should have access to screenings and mammograms.

“With the information we can spread awareness, we should be on the forefront of awareness and give widespread treatment for all women, at Montefiore I’m proud to say we do that,” Sabitri said.

As part of breast cancer awareness month, Montefiore will be giving free screenings on Saturday, October 13 at its Eastchester Road campus.

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