When I hit the age of 12, the light bulb went off: This body of mine is a pretty complex thing! And ever since, I’ve been trying to keep up with those fascinating—and uniquely feminine—challenges.

I edit our two publications, Medical Imaging and Axis Imaging News, each month. And I enjoy the work. But this one—this special supplement on Women’s Imaging—is of particular importance to me. You could say it’s a tribute—to all the women I know who have struggled with breast cancer, ovarian cancer, infertility challenges, and other female health issues. It is also a tribute to all the physicians—male and female—who dedicate themselves to those very women.

It’s the 21st century, but there are still far too many sad statistics. Every 3 minutes a woman in the United States is diagnosed with breast cancer. (That’s faster than most women can apply their mascara.) Moreover, industry recruiters and physicians alike are concerned about the shortage of breast imagers. It’s a problem for all women—but particularly elderly women, who are at the greatest risk of developing breast cancer but are often less likely to get screened because of underestimation of their life expectancy, experts say.

Ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer among women. The American Cancer Society estimates that about 21,650 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2008. In addition, studies show that about 25% of women have fibroids large enough to cause symptoms, and that 30% to 50% of women have fibroid tumors that are asymptomatic. Finally, experts today recognize that female infertility accounts for about 40% of all infertility cases—a frustrating and frightening fact for many young women.

There is still much work to be done in women’s health care. But women’s imaging is leading the way—providing high-tech solutions and renewed hope.

Personally, I know a little something about infertility problems, ovarian cysts, and endometrial cancer. I survived them all. Not because I’m some kind of superwoman, but because I was surrounded—and supported—by loving family and friends, dedicated physicians, and amazing technology. Imaging didn’t just make a difference; it helped to save my life. CT scans became my new best friend. And ultrasound, well, I still schedule regular visits the way most women schedule facials.

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness month. So here’s to all the superwomen who have survived and shown that female cancers can be beaten. And, here’s to all those innovative technological advances that are turning women’s health hardships into happy-ending stories. Yes, we have a long way to go … but we also have much to celebrate.

—Marianne Matthews