Breast Cancer Awareness Month is still a month away, but the hospitals of Community Healthcare System are not resting when it comes to tackling the disease that 1 in 8 US women will develop over their lifetime. Dr. Janushi Dalal, MD, a radiologist who works at the healthcare system's locations across the Region including St. Mary Medical Center, Hobart; Community Hospital, Munster and St. Catherine Hospital, East Chicago, is dedicated to making sure women around Northwest Indiana are armed with the knowledge they need to detect and battle breast cancer.
Dr. Dalal is Region born and raised, having grown up and finished high school in Munster. Her parents are both physicians in the area and she was bit rebellious, not wanting to follow in their footsteps. She had applied to New York University for business and right before she was set to take off, her grandfather fell ill, leading her to stay in the area to help out her family and causing a change in perspective.
“I think taking care of my grandfather in his final years, as tough as it was emotionally, being able to help with one of the most fulfilling things I will do in my life and guiding my family through it helped me realize a strength,” Dr. Dalal said. “I realized I could navigate through those tough situations and that my skillset would be better used helping people who are ill.”
She completed her medical degree at the Indiana University School of Medicine, and undertook her residency at Loyola University Medical Center and then a fellowship in breast imaging at Northwestern Medicine Prentice Hospital. All of that education at leading institutions left her very familiar with their practices and how they change lives, but for her, nothing is better than working out of her hometown health network.
“I think the reason why I wanted to come back home was because my patients are my patients, and I have a personal connection with all of them,” she said. “My patients know that I will always be there for them, and they can always reach out to me. Here, our goal is to make sure that every patient knows that they can count on us.”
As a radiologist, Dr. Dalal’s main goal is making sure women over 40 get a mammogram done every year. Early detection is key to battling cancer, and she holds the firm belief that every woman who visits her is taking a very brave step.
“No one is alone in feeling anxious about coming in for a test, but there’s something I tell patients who are reluctant to get a mammogram including some who come all the way out [to the office] and are afraid,” Dr. Dalal said. “What I say is that they’re empowering themselves, they’re taking charge of their lives and healthcare. It is a little uncomfortable and it’s okay to be a little anxious, but with early detection we save lives.”
The most special thing, she said, about working at the Women's Diagnostic Centers of Community Healthcare System is that she works with patients from mammogram, through treatment and follow-up, and seeing her patients find the light at the end of the tunnel is an experience she could not find anywhere else.
“It’s one of the best feelings, and it makes me emotional just thinking about it,” she said. “When you get the news about cancer it's tough, but women usually think about everyone else in that moment. They never think ‘it’s about me’ they say ‘I’m going to do this for my family’ and when I see them at follow-up, they’re all universally stronger than they ever believed they could be. Seeing that makes me so grateful to do my job.”
Learn more about the Community Healthcare System at www.comhs.org.