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Event focuses on cancer fight

Breast cancer
Oct. 26, 2012 @ 11:59 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Early Friday morning, Marsha Dillow was already looking forward to the afternoon's activities. The culmination of the fourth annual Breast Cancer Basics and Beyond conference at Cabell Huntington Hospital was going to end with a memorial balloon release just outside Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center. For Dillow, she said, it was her favorite activity of the entire month.

"Everybody knows someone with breast cancer," said Dillow, director of the Cabell Huntington Hospital Breast Health Center. "When you see all the balloons that represented all the lives of people who have been impacted, and you're looking up in the sky, it's just a very emotional time."

The balloon release was the final touch on the day's activities which included continuing education in the field of breast cancer for health care providers from nurses and doctors to radiation technicians. The conference has morphed from trying to be inclusive of health care providers and survivors to a day of learning for those in the health care field followed by a time of remembrance and celebration of survivors.

"The first year we tried to make everything for the professionals and the survivors, and it was a challenge because you're dealing with different populations with different needs," Dillow said. "This year, we've geared the conference more toward professionals, in particular radiation technicians. We made it our goal during planning to find something for them because you don't realize the scope of practice they have. Radiology technicians giving mammograms are to radiologists what nurses are to doctors, so it was important for us to acknowledge their role."

Author Tamela Rich, who wrote "Live Full Throttle: Life Lessons from Friends Who Faced Breast Cancer," served as the event's keynote speaker.

Chad Schaeffer, executive director of the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center, said the disease of breast cancer is unique in its treatment, an idea they tried to capture when planning the conference.

"One of the things fairly unique to breast cancer is how many multi-modalities it takes for treatment, and we have all those professions represented here today," Schaeffer said. "I think one thing the hospital and Marshall University have is a commitment to provide education as one of its missions, and that is being accomplished here today."

Nearly 65 people participated in the conference, with approximately 50 attending the memorial balloon release.

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