Brunch to celebrate survivors
HUNTINGTON – With a “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” theme and a message of hope, the Cabell Huntington Hospital Breast Health Center hosted a brunch on Sunday afternoon to celebrate breast cancer survivors and spread the word to their female loved ones on the best ways to keep your breast health in check.
Breast cancer survivors were encouraged to bring their mothers, daughters, sisters or friends to the lunch to learn about screening opportunities and red flags.
“We’re here to educate women who need to be tested, and we hope they’ll take this out to the community,” said Marsha Dillow, director of Cabell’s Breast Health Center, located inside the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center at the hospital. “Survival is so much increased with early detect ion .” And as the keynote speaker for the event pointed out, breast cancer “is no respecter of age. It can happen to anyone,” Dillow said.
Speaker Kathy Parker of Sandusky, Ohio, has two sisters who died of breast cancer: Linda Miller, who died at the age of 28, and CheryLynn Hansen, who died at the age of 43. Like the higher-profile situation of Angelina Jolie, Parker took the warning signs to heart and had a prophylactic mastectomy in 1997 to prevent the cancer from taking over her own body.
She described herself as a “pre-vivor” and showed photos of her sons, Jordan and Hunter, now 18 and 20.
“I got to watch them grow up,” she said.
She has taken nothing for granted, looking for the beauty around her every day, she said. Now she travels the country, meeting thousands of extraordinary women fighting the fight of her sisters. She preaches the importance of regular screenings and heeding powerful warning signs such as a family history of cancer, and she encourages survivors to do the same.
“I want to save a life, and families,” she said. “If I can save just one, that’s what I’m here to do.” Cabell Huntington Hospital got a $35,000 grant from the West Virginia Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and is using it to provide free screenings for uninsured women. Dillow said the sixth woman who got screened through the program was a 40-year-old woman who showed up because she knew 40 is a key age to start getting mammograms. The test found cancer.
Cabell is offering free clinical breast exams from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, at the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center. All women are welcome, and the exams will be performed by local physicians and breast specialists. Free mammograms will be scheduled for uninsured women. Walk-ins will be admitted, but appointments are preferred and can be made by calling 304-526-2440.
Lisa Muto is a genetic nurse practitioner at Cabell and said breast cancer is a hereditary disease and anyone with concerns about their family history is invited to give her a call at 304-399-6572. She urged them to come to the screening event on Oct. 18 as well.
“We’re trying to help as many women as we can,” she said .
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