By Sandra Yeyati
When Michelle Hart was 40 years old, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Overcome with fear after having watched her grandmother die from the disease, Hart followed conventional protocols, enduring a lumpectomy, radiation and pharmaceutical drugs. She was married with two young sons and working as an office manager for a land developer. It was 1999.
After the treatments, when she began to believe that she would survive, Hart vowed to do whatever was necessary to never go through that experience again, and that’s what precipitated her fervent interest in health, nutrition and alternative medicine, and eventually led her to become a breast thermographer and owner of DITI Imaging.
Her doctor suggested that she get mammograms every six months, but Hart was worried about the cumulative effect of radiation, having already gone through radiation treatment. So, about four years after the initial diagnosis, she began to rely on breast thermography as her primary method of breast screening, together with self-exams and doctor examinations.
Thermography uses an infrared camera to detect abnormal blood flow and inflammation based on vascular physiology, often pointing to potential problem areas years before a mammogram finds a mass. Because no breast compression or radiation is involved in the procedure, it is pain-free and risk-free.
In the beginning, Hart was getting thermograms on a quarterly basis. She got to know her thermographers very well, and when they decided to sell their business, they offered it to her. “They wanted someone that had some type of breast cancer background and somebody that was passionate for the work, and so it seemed like it was a perfect fit, and it’s been one of the greatest decisions that I ever made,” Hart explains. She purchased the business seven years ago.
Certified by the American College of Clinical Thermology, Hart takes the images and gathers each patient’s history, which is then sent to a group of medical doctors that are trained thermologists, several of which are also radiologists and breast specialists, to interpret the data. Hart expresses frustration with many medical doctors that disregard thermal findings and don’t take the time to educate themselves about the technology. “There are more than 800 studies and 300,000 women that have been studied. We have a complete practitioner’s packet that we are more than happy to send out to any physician who is interested. It lists much of the research and references that they typically are looking for.”
Hart is all about doing research. She is an avid reader and cites doctors Andrew Weil, Joseph Mercola and Michael Schwartz as major influences. Her research has led her to believe that we must take responsibility for our health, and that there are specific measures we can take to prevent disease and promote healing. “A lot of what we eat, think, drink and do is causing our country’s illnesses. You can be genetically predisposed to breast cancer, but it doesn’t have to manifest. There are triggers that cause the genes to express and if you know the triggers and can avoid some of those things, you can avoid some of the diagnoses,” she says. Her health routine includes yoga, exercise, visits to a chiropractor and acupuncturist, homeopathy, essential oils, supplementation, organic food and clean drinking water.
A year after her own cancer diagnosis, Hart founded Healing Hartwork, a nonprofit that holds monthly public meetings in San Antonio with knowledgeable speakers on natural health and wellness. The group also offers free thermograms to qualified, uninsured, low-income women. “I talk to women all-day long and they are so stressed and so overburdened. But the hardest part is they don’t realize how much of that is self-imposed. I have to try to remember that myself and to practice what I preach,” Hart says.
DITI Imaging maintains two permanent locations in San Antonio and Austin, plus mobile services to eight other locations in South Texas, which they visit on a quarterly basis so that women can stay on track with their scheduled screenings. The satellite locations, which are listed on the DITI Imaging website, are in other practitioners’ offices, including chiropractors, a medical doctor, neuromuscular therapist and a health food store. In the future, Hart hopes to expand their service area to reach women in Dallas/ Fort Worth and beyond.
The important thing is to have regular screenings. In her years of experience, Hart has met many women that were not getting mammograms out of fear, concern or bad experiences. When they learn that they have an option that is non-invasive and does no harm in the process, they are much more compliant with their screenings. Some thermograms performed by Hart have led to early detection, and for Hart, this is the most rewarding aspect of her work. For many other women, thermography leads them to make changes that may help them avoid cancer in the first place.
Locations: 300 Beardsley Ln., Bldg. E, Austin; 1931 N.W. Military Hwy., Ste. 203, San Antonio. For more info, call 210-705-1232, email Info@DITIImaging. com or visit DITIImaging.com and HealingHartwork.org.