The mammogram was clear, but a Sonocine exam found breast cancer

terri with family

Guest post by Terri Mallioux, mama of Trevor and breast cancer survivor

Summer-Remix4I could hear the laughter outside my kitchen door as teenagers were in the midst of celebrating my son’s 16th birthday and the beginning of their summer break. After the long, cold winter, everyone was looking forward to sun, fun and a little down time.

As I was peering out the window watching my son and his friends interact, the phone rang. It was at that point my plans for the summer took a dramatic shift.

“Mrs. Mallioux?”

“Yes,” I responded.

“This is the Breast Center,” the woman said.  “We need you to come in for some additional testing. We have some time at 1 p.m. today.”

My heart briefly stopped.  I had just had a mammogram 11 weeks earlier and it was all clear.  Then it dawned on me — I had opted to have an additional test at my own expense and I realized it was that test the clinic was calling about.

So there I was, 11 weeks after a “normal” mammogram, on my son’s 16th birthday, waiting in the Breast Center of Northwest Arkansas for further tests.

In all honesty, I was thinking to myself, “Surely this is just a false alarm. After all, false positives happen all the time. Remember Terri, you’ve had call-backs before and your mammogram was fine just weeks ago. You’re only 47.”

It didn’t take long for me to know this wasn’t just another doctor’s visit. The seriousness of what doctors had seen on my Sonociné exam, otherwise known as Automated Whole Breast Ultrasound, was palpable.

I looked at the doctor and ultrasound technician while I lay on the table and said, “Is it cancer?” as I stared at the irregular shaped black blob on the ultrasound monitor. The doctor said, “There are many characteristics that don’t look good. But the good news is it’s small.” She stressed the word “small” as to reassure me.

I walked out of the office and I knew. I had breast cancer. I didn’t even need to wait for the results of the biopsy scheduled for the next day. My summer plans had changed. My life had changed. And despite the magnitude of the moment, I felt a feeling of pure thankfulness; I was filled with relief; I was grateful; I was proud of myself.

The source of those feelings was due to the fact I had chosen to have a voluntary Sonociné exam at my own expense. That decision and that test could have saved my life.

I have known for years that I have extremely dense breast tissue because I have had a few breast ultrasounds and doctors have always commented on it. Dense breast tissue is comprised of less fat and more fibrous and glandular tissue making it harder to spot cancerous tumors on a mammogram.

Think of it as trying to find a pearl in a pile of snow — cancerous tumors appear white on a mammogram (the pearl) while the dense breast tissue also appears white (the snow).  In others words, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, for doctors to “see” a tumor via mammogram in women with extremely dense breast tissue.

A few facts:

  • denseMore than forty percent of all women have dense breast tissue.¹
  • Mammography misses every other cancer in dense breasts.²
  • Breast density is one of the strongest predictors of the failure of mammography screening to detect cancer.³
  • Breast density is a well-established predictor of breast cancer risk.⁴
  • Cancer turns up five times more often in women with extremely dense breasts than those with fatty tissue.³
  • Two-thirds of pre-menopausal women and one-fourth of post-menopausal women have dense breast tissue.³
  • Doctors have spoken to less than one in 10 women about breast density.⁵

You likely are asking yourself, “How do I know if I have fatty breasts or dense breasts?” A radiologist determines your breast density by viewing your mammogram.

There are four levels that doctors use to categorize breast density:

  • The breasts are almost entirely fatty
  • There are scattered areas of fibroglandular density
  • The breasts are heterogeneously dense, which may obscure small masses
  • The breasts are extremely dense, which lowers the sensitivity of mammography

If you’re curious while having your mammogram, simply ask the technician performing your exam. My philosophy is it’s your health, the least you can do is ask! You can also request of copy of your radiology mammography report from your referring doctor and look for the descriptions of your breast tissue. You’ll likely learn more about your breasts than you ever dreamed.

I applaud the Breast Center of Northwest Arkansas and other clinics locally and nationwide that are voluntarily informing women of their breast density on their post-mammogram letters to patients.

My post-mammogram letter which notified me of “normal” results also said this:

“Your mammogram shows that you have dense breast tissue. Since dense tissue can hide small abnormalities, you may benefit from having an Automated Whole Breast Ultrasound (AWBUS) exam. This examination is specifically designed for women with dense breast tissue like yours. Using Automated Whole Breast Ultrasound in combination with screening mammograms may find significantly more breast cancers in women with dense breasts than mammograms alone.”

This notification was the push I needed to get an additional examination. Sonociné is not a replacement for screening mammography. However, studies show an ultrasound examination, in conjunction with a mammogram, can find more cancers in dense-breasted women than if doctors rely on the mammogram results alone. I am proof of that.

Fortunately, 20 states now have state breast density reporting laws mandating breast density information must be included in a patient’s mammogram reporting results. Unfortunately, Arkansas is not currently one of those states. We have work to do! Federal legislation was introduced in are you dense logoJuly in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Sen. Kelly Ayotte following a companion bill introduced in the House by Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Rep. Steve Israel. The goal of the Breast Density and Mammography Reporting Act is to have a national standard of reporting breast density to patients. The bill would set a minimum federal standard for notification and recommend women discuss with their doctors whether additional screening is necessary.

The bill also directs Health and Human Services to study improved screening options for women with dense tissue. It is supported by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the Breast Cancer Fund, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Are You Dense Advocacy. Dr. Nancy Cappello, founder and director of Are You Dense Advocacy, Inc., and the inspiration behind the first density reporting law in the country says, “A national standard will ensure that every woman across this country is given critical breast health information as part of her mammography report.”

Sen. Feinstein adds, “Early detection of breast cancer is key to survival. By requiring that patients be informed if they have dense tissue, this bill allows women to make potentially lifesaving choices about their care.”

terriAt the time of my diagnosis, I was the 8th patient out of more than 800 that underwent a Sonociné exam at the Breast Center of Northwest Arkansas that was diagnosed with cancer following a “normal” mammogram. We are a special bunch. And we are a group that can make an impact on your health and awareness.

I am currently cancer-free and feel great following a lumpectomy and radiation treatment. I remember vividly asking one of my doctors how long it would have been before my tumor was spotted on a mammogram had I hadn’t have had the ultrasound procedure. He said it likely would have been at least two years and I would have been dealing with a much more difficult cancer to treat.

We all know early detection of breast cancer is of the utmost importance. And simply asking, “Am I dense?” can make all the difference in your medical care and your life.

For more information, visit or

Data cited in this article derived from: ¹ Breast Center of Northwest Arkansas ² Breg et al, JAMA: 2012 ³ Are You Dense, Inc. ⁴ Journal of National Cancer Institute ⁵ Harris Interactive Survey: 2010

Fasting from TV for one week this summer: Why you’ll be glad you did

tv fast

By Shannon Magsam, co-founder

Summer-Remix4The summer I turned 17, I traveled across the United States (and Bermuda – hard job!) in a huge tour bus with a Christian group called the Continental Singers.

I was one of the youngest among the group of singers, guitarists, drummers, other band members, directors and sound techs. We were often in a different city every night and stayed with host families from the churches where we performed, everywhere from Florida to Texas.

When I returned home just before my senior year in high school, I realized I hadn’t watched television – or seen a movie (nobody had Facebook back then) – the whole summer. And then I realized I hadn’t missed it one little bit.

My family recently went on vacation and about mid-way through I mentioned (with a little surprise) to my husband that we hadn’t watched television in our hotel room at all. He told me he had consciously not turned it on. We decided we’d continue to literally unplug for the remainder of our trip.

It turned out to be an awesome idea.

Want to join us one week this summer in a TV fast? Here’s why you’ll be glad you did:

Top 5 reasons to unplug (so you can plug in to your family – and yourself. Remember you?)

You’ll be more connected. Without the television’s numbing qualities, you’ll naturally talk more to your family — and get to know each other better. You’ll think of deeper things to ask besides, “How was your day?” and “What do you want for dinner?” You might even ask your husband or kids something like, “What’s making you happy lately?” or “What’s making you unhappy?”

paint brushYou’ll be more creative. Chances are, with the extra time you would normally spend sitting on the couch, passive, you might realize you can work on a project you’ve been hoping to tackle. My daughter drew in her sketchbook a lot while we were in Florida and I wrote down ideas for future blog posts (and even jotted down a few ideas for a novel I’d love to write). Getting reacquainted with out our creative genius is grounding and finishing a project can be really rewarding (painting project done, craft with the kids completed, clean garage shining, organized office beckoning).

You’ll be less stressed. Have you ever heard of second-hand stress? It’s a real thing. If you sit next to someone at work who’s a stress ball, you’ll start to internalize it and feel anxiety, too. And like second-hand cigarette smoke, that stuff can kill you. I get stressed while watching TV shows, too. I’m naturally empathetic and if there’s an emotional or violent scene, I’m right there with the wronged party. I can literally feel my blood pressure rise and I often pace the living room when certain scenes fill the screen. And while you’re fasting from television, why not also take a break from the Internet (social media, that is; I know some of you have to use a computer at work). Research shows that as time spent on reading Facebook increases, for example, the more a person’s happiness decreases. Social comparisons are not your friend.

You’ll be a better parent. How many times do you shoo your kids out of the room when you’re watching a TV show that’s not really age appropriate for them? I’m picky about what my daughter sees and it seems like she happens to walk through every time something inappropriate pops up on, say, The Big Bang Theory. There will be 10 full minutes that are completely fine for her to watch, then watch out: a zinger. Or heck, the commercials can make me cringe more these days than some of the TV shows. The other day we were all watching some completely innocuous TV show and the commercial for the movie “Sex Tape” came on. It was horrifying for me and my daughter.

You’ll have more s*x. When you’re not sitting like a zombie in front of the TV, you’ll have more time for lots of activities, including some that involve your husband. S*x is healthy. It strengthens your relationship, it naturally boosts your mood, and it burns calories.


Now, I won’t lie: The night we got home from vacation, we grabbed our favorite snacks and sat rapt in front of the boob tube. And it was glorious. It was nice to zone out and travel to another world.

But the TV fast was so successful that our family will be doing it again this summer. Not the WHOLE summer, but a few weeks is a good thing!

The best snow cone stands in Northwest Arkansas!

snow cone sliderSummer-Remix4There seems to be a snow cone stand on every corner right now, which makes us HAPPY. We love a sweet, syrupy snow cone in the summer!

That said, we polled our Facebook friends to find the best snow cones in NWA. They suggested several great ones plus we went out and did a little research of our own over the weekend.

We found these cuties at Shave the Planet (in the Hobby Lobby parking lot) on College Avenue in Fayetteville. They are eating Funky Monkey, Invisible Cherry and Root Beer. Isn’t “invisible” cherry a genius idea? Right after we snapped this pic, the little girl in the middle spilled it right down the front of her outfit. Wet and sticky, yes, but not red!

sno cone kids, resized

Shave the Planet has multiple locations in NWA. Here’s a current list of where you can find them:

744 Joyce Blvd
(In the Mattress Firm parking lot next to Walgreens)

3078 N College Ave
(Next to the Bank of Fayetteville and Hobby Lobby)

1308 N Thompson
(Across from AQ Chicken & Kum and Go)

2940 W Sunset Ave
In front of Malco Theater and Harps

Why don’t you join us in eating at as many snow cone stands as possible around NWA?! Here’s a short list of recommended stops (updated for 2015):

Did we miss your favorite? Tell us about it comments so we’ll all know where to find it! We’d also love to know your favorite flavor!

Sam's Snow Cones

Looking for a new series to watch on Netflix this summer?

netflix, cropped

We recently asked our nwaMotherlode. com Facebook friends about their favorite shows to watch on Netflix.

If you’re looking for a series to binge-watch this summer, you might try a few of these series suggestion. Some are a little “older”, but if you never watched them, now could be the time!

nwaMotherlode Readers’ Top Picks:

Call the Midwife

About: Set in the 1950s, this period drama based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth follows new midwife Jenny Lee and the other midwives and nuns working in a nursing convent in an impoverished section of London’s East End.


About: Four grown siblings juggle parenthood, relationships, careers and more as they cope with life’s ups and downs in this family drama set in Berkeley, Calif. Meanwhile, their parents face an unraveling marriage and their own parenting challenges.

west wing

About: Winning four consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Drama Series, creator Aaron Sorkin’s powerful political epic chronicles the triumphs and travails of White House senior staff under the administration of President Josiah Bartlet.


About: From the creator of “Weeds” comes a heartbreaking and hilarious series set in a women’s prison. Piper trades her comfortable life for an orange jumpsuit and finds unexpected conflict and camaraderie amidst an eccentric group of inmates.

bob's burgers

About: In this animated series, hamburger restaurant owner Bob Belcher, his happy-go-lucky wife, Linda, and their three rambunctious kids try to outwit a rival eatery and overcome their own family dysfunction to get their greasy spoon off the ground.

raising hope

About: Slacker Jimmy suddenly finds himself a father after a one-night stand with a murderer, but his eccentric family — including his dim-bulb father, sarcastic mother and addled great-grandmother — reluctantly pitches in to help with the new arrival.

breaking bad

About: Emmy winner Bryan Cranston stars as Walter White, a high school science teacher who learns that he has terminal lung cancer and teams with a former student to manufacture and sell high-quality crystal meth to secure his family’s future.

house of cards

About: Ruthless politician Francis Underwood and his ambitious wife Claire will stop at nothing to conquer Washington D.C. in this dark political drama, winner of three Emmy Awards, including Best Director, and a Golden Globe for Best Actress.


About: This adaptation of the story of DC Comics’ Green Arrow stars Stephen Amell as the titular character, an affluent playboy who becomes an archer superhero at night, saving the city from villains armed with just a bow and arrows.

once upon a time

About: Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin and Robert Carlyle star in this fantastical series that follows the travails of a young woman who is drawn to a small Maine town and discovers that it’s filled with the mystical elements of the fairy tale world.

dr. who

About: After more than a decade off the air, this epic sci-fi series returns with an all-new look — and the ninth (and beyond) incarnation of everybody’s favorite time-traveling Doctor, who promptly sets about fighting nefarious aliens and other foes.


About: In this updated take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved mystery tales, the eccentric sleuth prowls the streets of modern-day London in search of clues. At his side — though hobbling — is flatmate Dr. John Watson, fresh from the war in Afghanistan.

freaks and geeks

About: A group of high school students in 1980 faces various social struggles. Lindsay Weir rebels and begins hanging out with a crowd of burnouts, courtesy of an invitation from Daniel Desario.

the walking dead

About: In the wake of a zombie apocalypse that desolates the world as we know it, a group of survivors led by police officer Rick Grimes holds on to the hope of humanity by banding together to wage a never-ending fight for their own survival.


About: Olivia Pope leads a team of Washington, D.C., lawyers who specialize in making scandals disappear. As they secretly handle crises at the highest levels of government, the dysfunctional team must also cope with problems closer to home.


About: Inspired by Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, this modern-day drama follows a lovely young woman who moves to the Hamptons and charms the pants off her new neighbors — while plotting their downfall for sins committed against her family.

Summer-Remix4Here’s to a little downtime. Happy watching, mamas :) If you’d like to join our fun conversations on Facebook, click here! Note: We’re republishing this post because it was so popular — and we know some mamas may have missed it!

2015 Northwest Arkansas Summer Fun Printable!

One of the worst phrases a parent can hear from their kids over the summer is, “I’m bored”.

That’s why we rounded up a list of fun things to do in Northwest Arkansas in this UPDATED 2015 Summer Fun Printable. We also added a few summer camp ideas (click here for a more detailed list of 2015 camps with links and descriptions), rainy day ideas and annual events that happen every summer here.

We couldn’t include everything, of course, because that would fill an entire book! But if we missed one of your VERY FAVORITES, click on the words “post a comment” below and tell us what your family loves doing in the summer here in NWA.

CLICK HERE to print out the Summer Fun list. Stick it on the fridge as a reminder of all your options, no matter what your mood.

Summer Fun Printable 2015