How many people can claim to have helped people more than 100,000 times in their lifetime?
Thelma Reeves can.
For thousands of women in the San Fernando Valley, Mammography Supervisor Thelma Reeves has been the trusted and welcoming professional greeting women for their annual mammogram at the Women’s Diagnostic Center at West Hills Hospital.
She has performed more than 100,000 mammograms in her career spanning 44 years. It’s worth repeating: more than 100,000 mammograms!
In fact, Reeves has hands-on experience with evolving technology since 1988 when she began performing mammograms. She has seen technology go from basic film screen mammography to digital mammography and now to the very latest – 3D tomosynthesis mammography. She has also assisted with breast biopsy diagnostics from stereotactic biopsies to 3D biopsies and also using the latest wireless technology for surgical incisions at a later date.
Born in Indonesia, Thelma’s family moved to the United States when she was seven. She quickly adjusted to her new culture and credits American television for her English. She went to school in the Long Beach area and was in the very first graduating class for Radiology Technicians at Long Beach City College.
Her secret to a long, fulfilling career? Thelma credits her patients and the relationships she has built over time with each person.
She has helped generations of families, as some women will ask for her by name, saying “You performed my mother’s mammograms, and I wouldn’t dream of going any place else.”
Many of these bonds are so strong, that women still return after they have moved away. Reeves said one patient faithfully returns to the Women’s Diagnostic Center for her annual exam every year, even though she moved to Nevada about five years ago.
To remind herself and her team about the importance of making every patient feel special every time, Thelma often refers to the Maya Angelou quote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Reeves advises, “You can’t go into this field without caring about others. And at the Women’s Diagnostic Center, the team prides themselves for their compassionate care and making their clients feel welcome.”