Editor’s note: It’s time once again to “Think Pink” in observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You’ll notice the pink cover on today’s edition of the Citizen and the story below sharing the good news about treatment options available to area residents.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month brings local businesses, volunteers, charitable organizations and others together each October to raise funds for cancer research and encourage preventive measures like breast self-exams and regular mammograms.
In the spirit of “Thinking Pink,” a portion of the proceeds from advertising sales in today’s edition will go to Southern Regional Medical Center, Piedmont Healthcare Foundation-Henry/Newton and the Kimberley Chance Atkins Foundation to help those who are battling breast cancer.
CONYERS — The American Cancer Society recognizes breast cancer as the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers.
Currently, the average risk of a woman in the United States developing breast cancer sometime in her life is about 12%. This means there is a 1 in 8 chance she will develop breast cancer. This also means there is a 7 in 8 chance she will never have the disease.
However, with no special regard to general health, diet or genetics, every woman, starting at age 40, should opt for a mammogram or breast tissue screening every one to two years (depending on source.)
Fortunately, there is a caring team of nurses, mammo-technicians, MRI technicians and radiologists at Piedmont Rockdale who walk side by side with women in the east metro area through their breast cancer journeys.
“We are a full-care breast center,” said Dr. Courtney Perez, a radiologist at Piedmont Rockdale who also specializes in mammography. “We have access to every test modality; contrast MRIs; your common ultrasound biopsy; to more ergonomic biopsies.”
Piedmont Rockdale offers breast screenings, 3-D mammography tests, breast MRIs, breast ultrasounds, diagnostics and biopsies.
“Because we are a hospital, we can marshal the forces for people who have difficult situations,” said Perez. “Such as being wheelchair bound or a safe biopsy for someone who is on blood thinners- we have the ability and technology on site to take care of any situation. That’s the advantage of Piedmont.”
“Do not overlook your screenings and yearly exams,” continued Perez. “Too often women are scared to find out or would rather be in denial ... You know your body more than anyone else. If you feel something is wrong or needs more attention, go get a mammogram. My job is to compare one screening to the other. So when you skip a year, the comparison is drawn out further. So, the earlier you find something, the better our chance is to eliminate it.”
Alongside Perez are two Piedmont Rockdale mammo-techs and Cancer Wellness advocates, Donna Mays and Valerie McCully.
“It’s hard for most people,” said Mays, a mammo-tech at Piedmont for 29 years. “It really is a shell-shock; it’s like when you say the C word (cancer), all the other information is overlooked. That’s why I’m here. They can call me, ask me questions, whether it be test-related or something with their insurance. I am here for them.”
“Donna can schedule the screenings, conduct the screening, she calls the patients if they need to come back and walks them through the entire process step by step,” said McCully, a mammo-tech for 26 years.
McCully said that most patients are worried about costs and other financial factors.
“Luckily, most insurances cover mammograms and diagnostic tests,” said McCully. “If you don’t come get a screening, it’s like you’re actually wasting money. From there most can expect a co-pay, but don’t let money be the factor that keeps you from getting a screening.”
“Piedmont has a foundation and services made specifically for this,” said Perez. “We are here to work with patients and to provide them with the service they need, regardless of their financial situation.”
To read more about the importance of mammograms and breast screenings, visit www.mammographysaveslives.org/Facts.aspx
For more breast cancer facts, visit www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/about.html
To schedule a screening at Piedmont Rockdale, visit www.piedmont.org/cancer/services-treatments/diagnostics/mammography1.
Piedmont Rockdale will also host its first Cook-Out Cancer lunch Friday, Oct. 4 in Building B at Cafeteria Courtyard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Tickets are $10 each and can be ordered online at piedmont.org/prhcookout
All proceeds from this event will be used to update the waiting room in the mammogram area into a more relaxing and comfortable setting.