Russell Russell Rotary welcomed new members on Thursday and invited speakers from the Kings Daughters Medical Center to discuss the benefits of early breast cancer screening.
Carrie Thompson has joined Russell Rotary and is the fourth woman to join the organization. After the opening ceremony, Rotarian Scott Hill talked about why he “wears pink” to raise awareness of breast cancer before introducing the speaker.
“The presentations you’re about to hear are the same for us and for women,” Hill said. “I wear pink for two reasons. When I was in college, I found out that my mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and that was overwhelming.” He said how his mother was. She shared how she received all the treatments, but in the end she died tragically from an illness affecting one in eight women. Hill’s second reason is that his sister was also diagnosed and eventually died of breast cancer. It is his belief that if one of his loved ones could take advantage of the early screenings available today, they would probably still be alive.
Doretha Pridemore, clinical supervisor at KDMC’s Breast Cancer Center, shared her own story of being a breast cancer survivor. Pridemore made information packets available, emphasizing to a predominantly male audience that not only should they share this with their “favorite women,” but men also need to be aware of breast cancer.
“Some men are diagnosed with breast cancer,” Pridemore said, stressing that everyone, regardless of gender, needs to be aware of how devastating a breast cancer diagnosis can be.
Pridemore said it was very emotional to see an increase in the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer each week.
“I know that women aren’t the only ones diagnosed with cancer. It’s like the whole family was diagnosed.”
But thankfully, she said, survival is improving as mammography techniques become more and more superior.
“Especially if diagnosed early, that’s the key,” said Pridemore. She said that monthly self-examination and annual mammography are essential because women are diagnosed with breast cancer every two minutes.
Breast cancer is traditionally thought to affect older women, according to Pridemore, but that belief is not always an accurate assumption. Her own story goes directly against that set of ideas, she said, and KDMC is seeing more young women being diagnosed. Pridemore decided to undergo mammography at the age of 35, and the test showed unusual results. And at the age of 36, she had no family history of breast cancer, but she decided to have another test. This test also gave abnormal results and required surgery. Testing at age 38 showed areas of concern that she described as pea-sized. However, after waiting five weeks for follow-up, the area grew to the size of a grape.
Pridemore shared how she received a variety of treatments, including breast mass removal and radiation therapy. She also shared emotional sacrifices as she ran through her mind as to who would raise her child and how long she would remain to live.
Coupled with physical challenges, she said emotional sacrifices can be devastating. Pridemore recognized faith in God over the test and education about illness and support. Fortunately, she’s a 19-year-old cancer survivor now, but she firmly believes she wouldn’t be alive today if she waited until she was old enough to be screened for breast cancer.
“It’s important to do this early,” says Pridemore. “Do a monthly self-examination and get a mammography every year, and be sure to actively discuss it with others.”
Pridemore also said some women hesitate to take annual mammography because of insurance concerns, uncovered mammography and fear of high out-of-pocket costs. However, in many cases there are programs that can help cover such costs, so she urged women to contact the mammography department.
“If that’s your concern, come see us because we don’t want it to be a barrier to women getting mammograms,” Pridemore said. ..
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