PMHD coaches com­mu­nity on breast cancer aware­ness

Imperial Valley Press - - LOCAL&REGION - BY WIL­LIAM ROLLER Staff Writer

BRAW­LEY — For the many who vis­ited the Pi­o­neers Memo­rial Health­care District au­di­to­rium Thurs­day they were as­tounded by the lat­est op­tions for breast cancer care.

“Real Su­per­heroes wear Pink” is the sec­ond an­nual breast cancer aware­ness event put on by the ra­di­ol­ogy depart­ment with six out­side agen­cies to in­form women as well as men of re­sources avail­able in Im­pe­rial Val­ley noted Patty En­ders, PMHD ra­di­ol­o­gist/tech­nol­o­gist.

“We’re pro­mot­ing our new dig­i­tal to­mosyn­the­sis mam­mo­gram ma­chine,” said En­ders. “It pro­vides a three di­men­sional (3D) im­age of the breast that makes the ra­di­ol­o­gist job of de­tect­ing breast cancer ear­lier much eas­ier.”

The 3D Tomo ar­rives later this fall and will be the only one in the county. It pro­vides im­ages in slices from many an­gles that will be eas­ier to find ab­nor­mal­i­ties. Joel Bird­song, PMHD ra­di­ol­ogy ed­u­ca­tion co­or­di­na­tor, noted ap­prox­i­mately 250,000 women in the U.S. will be di­ag­nosed along with 2,500 men of breast cancer in the next year. Sim­i­lar to all can­cers, the ear­lier it is de­tected, the eas­ier it is to treat.

“By get­ting a mam­mo­gram you can de­tect cancer two years be­fore a doc­tor’s phys­i­cal or self-exam, so you elim­i­nate the pos­si­bil­ity of cancer grow­ing or spread­ing,” he said. “Women who have their first men­strual cy­cle be­fore 12 or menopause af­ter 55 are at higher risk, but the big­gest risk is ge­net­ics. There are lots of re­sources out there to de­tect early. That’s why over three mil­lion women are alive now who had breast cancer.”

Demon­strat­ing the proper way to con­duct a self-exam on a model was Sara Cruz, of­fice man­ager for Im­pe­rial Val­ley Cancer Sup­port Cen­ter, one of sev­eral part­ner­ing agen­cies.

Monthly self-ex­ams should be­gin in the 20s and women should check for any changes in color, ab­nor­mal swelling or signs of in­den­ta­tion, and then check with a doc­tor. A tu­mor 2 cen­time­ters or larger can be de­tected by self-exam, but ones just a cen­time­ter or smaller need a mam­mo­gram. “It’s im­por­tant to keep up with pre­ven­tive mea­sures,” said Cruz. “Our cen­ter pro­vides sup­port groups as well as breast mas­tec­tomy prod­ucts for the unin­sured. We’ll help them nav­i­gate through their cancer jour­ney to find the ap­pro­pri­ate or­ga­ni­za­tions to help cope with ill­ness.”

Tak­ing in the finer points of self-ex­ams were Car­men Ro­driguez and Linda Floyd, RNs who want to pass in­for­ma­tion on to their cancer pa­tients. Floyd’s mother is a breast cancer sur­vivor, and it was prompt de­tec­tion that saved her.

“She was in her 40s at the time, and now she’s in her 70s, so breast cancer is not a death sen­tence,” she said.

At the Cancer Re­source Cen­ter of the Desert ta­ble, Melissa Lizarraga, as­sis­tant di­rec­tor talked about Metastatic Breast Cancer Day, oc­cur­ring to­day for their clients. MBC is stage four that has spread to other or­gans, and there is no cure, so pa­tients take med­i­ca­tion for the re­main­der of life. “Don’t’ be scared to be­come in­formed about how to care for your own body,” she said. “See a doc­tor early and be cer­tain to ask ques­tions to help you progress through treat­ment.”

Sched­ul­ing a mam­mo­gram ap­point­ment at the event was En­ri­queta De La Torre, an RN in the Pre-op­er­a­tive Surgery Depart­ment. As a PMHD em­ployee, she en­joyed the con­ve­nience of get­ting an ap­point­ment with­out a doc­tor’s or­der yet have re­sults sent to her pri­mary care physi­cian. And she’s ex­cited about the high-tech ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the 3D Tomo.

“It’s im­por­tant to sched­ule a mam­mo­gram since health care work­ers tend to pro­cras­ti­nate,” she said. “As soon as they find any lit­tle bump, they can take care of it.”

WIL­LIAM ROLLER PHOTO

En­ri­queta De La Torre (left) sets a mam­mo­gram ap­point­ment at the Real Su­per­heroes wear Pink cancer aware­ness event at Pi­o­neers Memo­rial Health­care District on Thurs­day.

WIL­LIAM ROLLER PHOTO

Joel Bird­song (left) of PMHD at the Real Su­per­heroes wear Pink breast cancer aware­ness event on Thurs­day.

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