June 06, 2022

Interpreting Mammograms for Bermuda

Marc J. Homer, MD, FACR

One afternoon in May of 1991, I was interpreting mammograms in my work area at Tufts Medical Center in Boston when my phone rang. I answered it and was surprised to hear that it was the Minister of Health of Bermuda. He said the only physician who interpreted the mammograms on the island had just passed away and he was looking for a radiologist on the east coast with academic and teaching credentials who would interpret the mammograms and also train the two radiologists on the island to eventually assume the responsibility for mammographic interpretation. I was surprised to learn that the physician who had been interpreting the mammograms was not even a radiologist!

When I agreed to do this, I asked the minister how he knew that I was born in Bermuda. He said that he had no idea that I had Bermudian citizenship. (The circumstances for me being born in Bermuda is perhaps a story for another day.) When I travelled to the island periodically over the next few years, I gave Grand Rounds at the King Edward Vll Hospital and also gave many lay presentations at churches and the Rotary Club about the importance of early detection of breast cancer by mammography. I was always introduced by my name, title and, of course, that I was Bermudian by birth. This last fact, more than the others, always served to establish an immediate bond with the audience.

During the years that I was the sole person responsible for mammographic interpretation on the island, I was a mini celebrity. My visits to the island usually generated newspaper articles about my arrival along with the times and dates of my lectures to the public. Once I participated in a television show about breast cancer and later found out this topic was a most unusual topic for them.

I also had the opportunity to meet dignitaries such as the prime minister and the governor. I was even asked to host a fundraising event to generate revenue that would allow the hospital to purchase a new mammography unit. The fundraiser was an equestrian competition with well-known riders invited from several countries. I was given a tour of the stables. Not being a horseback rider myself, the horses were absolutely magnificent to see up close!

You might imagine what a wonderful experience this was for me. However, in retrospect, it was one of the most challenging times in my professional life. Imagine coming home every evening, after a long day at work, and facing several FedEx boxes of mammograms from Bermuda that had to be interpreted in a timely manner! Can you relate to how excited I was when I finally trained the two radiologists living on the island how to assume responsibility for equipment quality control and mammogram interpretations?

If you have never visited Bermuda, I would highly recommend it. It is clean, the pink beaches are beautiful, the sand is powdery and the people are very friendly. The language, of course, is English, and U.S. currency is accepted, so there is no need to convert money. However, one must keep in mind that Bermuda is not a tropical island and that hurricane season is in the fall.

Full disclosure: I have no affiliation with the Bermuda Tourism Authority!