Change the world

A Radiographer on a Mission

In the bustling world of healthcare, it's the passionate individuals like Diploma in Radiography (Diagnostic)'10 alumna, Lauren Howley who stand out. As a Mammographer in the South African Department of Health based at Livingstone Hospital, she has not only embraced her role but has also dedicated herself to raising awareness about breast cancer, early detection, and providing exceptional patient care. Her journey from a modest upbringing to becoming a dedicated professional is an inspiring narrative of resilience and dedication.

The 34-year-old wife and mother of two’s roots trace back to the Northern Areas, where she spent her childhood, nurtured by the love and support of her parents. Her father worked in the textile industry, and her mother was employed at a local supermarket.

Despite financial challenges, Lauren's unwavering dedication to academics shone through, a quality she possessed since her early years in 1st grade. Her thirst for knowledge, dedication and a passion for making a difference resulted in her matriculation from Gelvandale High School in 2006.

Tragedy struck when Lauren was just fourteen years old, with the passing of her father. Left in the care of her mother and late maternal grandmother, she found herself navigating life's trials with their unwavering support. Even today, her mother remains her strongest pillar of strength, alongside her husband.

Her initial dream was to become a chartered accountant, but financial constraints forced her to reconsider her path. It was a conversation with her aunt, who had worked at Livingstone Tertiary Hospital, that opened her eyes to the world of radiography. With a fully covered bursary from the government, she enrolled in a three-year National Diploma program in radiography at Nelson Mandela University (formerly NMMU) and was subsequently assigned to Livingstone Tertiary Hospital for her practical training. Following her graduation and community service, Lauren received a permanent job offer at the same hospital, and she also got married and welcomed her first daughter into the world.

Lauren's journey in radiography didn't stop there. In 2013, she had the opportunity to pursue a post-graduate certificate in mammography at Cape Peninsula University of Technology. This new challenge, along with the responsibilities of motherhood and a full-time job, tested her mettle. But with the support of her family and unwavering determination, she excelled in her studies.

Mammography became her newfound passion, and she embraced the opportunity to make a real difference in the early detection of breast cancer.

After the birth of her second daughter, she discovered yet another passion—performing computed tomography (CT) scans. This year, she's preparing to complete her professional certificate in CT, showing her commitment to continuous learning and growth in her field.

As a mammographer, her role extends beyond mammography. She's responsible for various tasks within the radiology department, working closely with radiologists and requesting physicians. Providing exceptional diagnostic imaging while ensuring exceptional patient care is her primary focus, and she believes it should be the goal of every radiographer. Lauren sees radiographers as the "eyes of medicine," playing a crucial role in the critical journey of patients.

Breast cancer awareness holds a special place in Lauren's heart, as she has lost colleagues, friends, and loved ones to this disease. She and her colleagues are on a mission to reach out to underprivileged and uninformed communities, spreading knowledge about early detection and the importance of regular check-ups. They visit local clinics, church events, and schools, making every effort to create awareness. The fear and uncertainty she witnesses in patients as they face the possibility of breast cancer is heart-breaking, but she firmly believes that "early detection saves lives." With her dedication and passion, she hopes to make a difference and help people live longer, cancer-free lives.

Lauren's drive to excel in her career is evident, and she's currently preparing to pursue her honours and a master's degree in radiography. Her daily motivation is her family, and she takes her role as a mother and wife seriously. At work, the "thank you" she receives from patients is her daily affirmation, and she lives by the principle of treating others the way she wants to be treated.

Her journey from a determined young girl in a modest background to a dedicated Mammographer is nothing short of inspiring. Her commitment to her profession and her passion for raising breast cancer awareness highlight her exceptional qualities. Lauren's story is evidence to the power of determination and the impact one person can have on the lives of many.

She's not just a radiographer; she's a beacon of hope and knowledge, striving to make a real difference in the world of healthcare. Lauren's story is a reminder that with unwavering dedication and a caring heart, one person can truly change lives.