PUBLISHER NOTE: Because an October focus is breast health, we asked Michelle Hart, a passionate advocate for women’s health, particularly breast health, to share information about thermography and about DITI Imaging, a company she started in 2006.

For readers new to thermography, and DITI Imaging, tell us a bit about why you started DITI and why you are such a champion of thermography.

In 1999, after going through treatment for breast cancer, I was somewhat leery about having the frequent mammograms that are often recommended to breast cancer patients for the first few years after diagnosis. I had already been through radiation therapy and was concerned about further radiation exposure. I learned about a safe, non-invasive, radiationfree, effective means of screening called “thermography” that sounded like an answer to my prayers. One of my health care practitioners suggested I use thermogaphy as my primary screening with occasional mammograms as needed. Once I learned about thermography’s potential for early detection, I began using the technology on a regular basis. After a few years and positive results and experiences, I purchased the company and began my mission in life! The time has come for women to have a safe, effective, noninvasive means of breast screening.

Why should women consider adding thermography to their preventive care regimen?

I absolutely believe that women should consider including thermography in their preventative care regimen due largely to the simple fact that one in eight women are being diagnosed with breast cancer. We live in a very toxic world and unfortunately the rates continue to increase. Thermography is completely non-invasive; nothing touches the body so there is no discomfort whatsoever. There is no radiation risk; we are simply imaging the infrared heat that naturally radiates from the body as a result of blood flow. Because we are looking for the early indicators of breast disease, there is the potential for earlier detection than mammography or self-exams alone.

Neither mammography nor thermography diagnose breast cancer, but both screenings can indicate a potential problem. Should women consider a preventive care approach that incorporates both?

Depending on individual and family history, women may want to consider having an annual thermogram in conjunction with their annual mammogram, ultrasound or MRI. There are many women who are not good candidates for mammography but are perfect candidates for thermography; these include women with fibrocystic breast tissue, dense breast tissue, implants or have had mastectomies without reconstructive surgery.

A barrier for many women interested in thermography screenings is insurance coverage; many insurance companies will not pay for thermography scans. How do you address that issue with your clients?

While we do not accept nor file insurance claims, we do provide a receipt with the proper insurance coding for filing purposes in the event the client would like to submit for reimbursement. We have been told by clients that some of their claims have been paid or applied to their deductibles. We accept all forms of payment including cash, check and credit cards. Thermography is an eligible expense for both health care and flexible spending accounts. We work very hard at keeping costs affordable because we understand that many clients are paying out of pocket. The cost of the first visit is less than $200, which is less expensive than the average mammogram. Once someone is an established client, payment terms are an option, if needed. We also work with a non-profit organization that may be able to help with thermography expenses.

You formed a non-profit foundation called Healing Hartwork that supports woman and their breast health. What types of support does Healing Hartwork provide, and how can readers connect with Healing Hartwork?

Healing Hartwork was founded in 2000 as a result of my own diagnosis and recovery needs. It is an alternative cancer support group for both women and men that provides educational monthly meetings on alternative and integrative health topics. The group is open and not conditional on a cancer diagnosis. Through grant funding and private donations, Hartwork also provides free breast thermograms to low income, uninsured women. More information on Healing Hartwork can be found at www.healinghartwork.org.

Michelle Hart is the owner of DITI Imaging. DITI Imaging is located at 10918 Vance Jackson, Ste. 101. For more information about DITI Imaging and about thermography screenings, visit www.ditiimaging.com. For more information about Healing Hartwork, visit www.healinghartwork. org. See the DITI Imaging display ad on page 2.

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