Healthcare worker raises breast cancer awareness through Making Strides

Mammograms aren't comfortable. But Lois Nickel-Ward wants to make the patient's experience as easy as possible.

"I don't like when women say they're afraid to have it done," she explained.

We first met her back in 2018. She's the supervisor of mammography at St. Petersburg General Hospital.

Sometimes the screenings reveal something she doesn't like to see.

"Looking at an image when I know someone may be having an abnormality," said Nickel-Ward.

She's taken the extra step to call those patients to remind them to check in with their doctor.

"That's always a concern of mine because we have to follow up on all abnormal exams that require biopsies," she continued.

For more than 20 years, she's raised awareness about breast cancer in another way by lacing up her walking shoes for the American Cancer Society's Making Strides events.

"Being involved with cancer patients, it was a way for us to be involved with the community, to have women know where they may be able to go to get assistance, support, information on breast cancer treatment options," Nickel-Ward said.

And it gives her an opportunity to talk to women who may be hesitant about those yearly checks.

"For women who do need their mammogram and have been putting it off, not to do that because mammography can save a woman's life," said Nickel-Ward.

She's looking forward to the next walk and a chance to be a source of comfort and encouragement.

"It's always great to see all the people being out there to support the American Cancer Society – myself as a walker, as their family members, the cancer survivors – and I think it's also good for the newly diagnosed women to know yes there is hope, light at the end of the tunnel."

The American Cancer Society Making Strides in person walks will return in October. Signup is underway for the events. These walks raise awareness and funding for breast cancer research and programs.

Here are the walks and dates in the Tampa Bay area:

  • October 2- Raymond James Stadium - Tampa (Hillsborough)
  • October 9- The Shops at Wiregrass - Wesley Chapel (Pasco)
  • October 9- Lake Mirror Promenade - Lakeland (Polk)
  • October 16 - Nathan Benderson Park - Sarasota (Sarasota/Manatee)

LINK: To sign up,