Archive for Thursday, November 3, 2005

Breast cancer program stresses exams

November 3, 2005

— Lansing resident Paula Charity and her daughter, Sara, stood when a question was asked at a breast cancer awareness program at Providence Medical Center.

"Who has been diagnosed or knows someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer?" was the question, and nearly half of the audience of about 50 women and several men stood when the question was asked.

Paula Charity is a cervical cancer survivor. She also knows three women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. She came to the program to learn more about mammograms and give her daughter important health information. To her, the program on Thursday, Oct. 27, was a success.

"It was wonderful. I'm making a mammogram appointment tomorrow," she said. "This program gave me that push to do what's going to be better for me."

The Keenan Education Center at Providence Medical Center, 8929 Parallel Parkway, was decorated with pink flowers, tablecloths and balloons and had information tables available from oncologists, pharmacists, nutritionists and a breast cancer support group.

The evening began with a presentation from breast cancer survivor Paula Sheridan. She opened her story by saying, "We are going to win this battle someday soon," which received applause from the audience.

Sheridan told about her discovery of a lump, her disbelief at her diagnosis, her surgery and her weekly chemotherapy treatments. She read entries from a journal she wrote during her treatment and shared that her surgery for her tumor removal took place on Oct. 27, 1987, exactly 18 years to the day of the program. She stressed the importance of monthly breast self-exams and annual mammograms.

"I had my annual mammogram this morning," Sheridan said.

Paula Charity said that Sheridan's personal story of survival inspired her.

"Paula's story brought tears to my eyes. I like to hear about the survivors," Charity said.

Next, a representative from the American Cancer Society spoke about the programs offered at Providence. The first program, Reach to Recovery, invites women recently diagnosed with breast cancer to connect with breast cancer survivors for support. A second program, Look Good : Feel Better, brings in cosmetologists specially trained to deal with beauty and make-up issues related to cancer treatments. The next meeting for Look Good : Feel Better is 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 7 in the radiation department at Providence. Call (913) 432-3277 for more information.

Ingrid Armstrong, another Lansing resident, attended with her husband, Duwayne, primarily to hear Dr. Lori Lindstrom talk. Armstrong was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and was treated by Lindstrom. Armstrong is currently cancer-free.

Lindstrom began by asking true-or-false questions about breast cancer that she answered in the rest of her presentation. She said that although the number of diagnoses is around 275,000 each year, the death rate from breast cancer has decreased in the past 10 years.

As with all the speakers, Lindstrom stressed the importance of annual mammograms. She said this is because a lump can be found with a mammogram two years before it can be felt. Lindstrom discussed some factors that do not cause breast cancer, such as taking anti-depressants, and said the biggest risk factors are being female and getting older, neither of which are preventable.

Lola Harvey, a registered nurse, showed a video on how to perform a breast self exam and stressed the importance of the monthly self-exam in addition to yearly mammograms. She told the women to take care of themselves and not to be frightened to go to their doctor if they found a lump in their breast.

"Women traditionally take care of everyone but themselves," she said.

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