Not Tethered Down
Born with impaired vision, Susan Byzet said her mother’s determination and her desire to work in health care has led to this year, her golden anniversary of being a radiologic technologist.
“When I was a kid, my mother was told to ‘take [me] over to the School for the Blind in Louisville and to pick [me] up when I was 18,’” Susan said. “They told her, ‘Maybe they can teach [me] how to weave baskets because that’s all [I’m] going to be able to do.’ My mother told them no, so I’ve always done things a little differently to accommodate my lack of vision.”
Susan started as a candy striper in the dark room, helping techs develop film of X-ray scans in 1970. She began working as a technologist in nuclear medicine in 1974 at Saint Joseph Hospital. Her family relocated to New York when her children were young for her husband’s job, but returned in 1993 to Lexington and she came back to Saint Joseph. Now she is working in imaging at CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group at Palomar in Lexington.
Susan said she adapts to new spaces with spatial movement memorization and has tools to help her read CT scans, X-rays, mammograms and bone densitometry scans, all while progressing from hand-dipped developed film to digital scans during her career.
“Radiography has served me well,” Susan said. “I love my patients. I’m blessed after 50 years working in radiography. I try not to let it just be a diagnostic tool but I try to educate my patients about bone health, lifestyle changes and preventative screenings.”
Soaring Above Cancer
Susan said she always educated her patients on getting their mammograms, but was not an ideal patient at the time she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I was a terrible patient; I was 52 and never had a mammogram,” Susan said. “I went through 12 rounds of chemotherapy, went back to work. I had a double mastectomy then another round of chemotherapy. I was working half days by then, doing mammograms.
“No one loves to come in and have their mammogram, but I would say to [my patients], ‘I promise you there’s nothing I can do with this machine that’s as uncomfortable as breast cancer.’”
To celebrate beating cancer after a five-year battle, Susan said she decided to do something she always wanted to do: skydive.
“I would go skydiving every weekend if I had the money,” Susan said. “Maybe it’s because I can’t see how high I am, but skydiving, paragliding off the top of Mount Haleakala in Maui, zip lining, hot balloon rides – I love that stuff. I’m not tethered down; I can be free for those few minutes.”
Free base jumping is next, Susan added.