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