Archbold Encourages Women to Make Health a Priority

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Archbold Encourages Women to Make Health a Priority

Sunday, May 20, 2012

You may have received a lot from the older women in your family—the best apple pie recipe, your prized heirloom teapot and that coveted piece of beautiful, antique jewelry.

For Jean Morgan Hathaway, it’s sage advice that she’s passed along to her three daughters and granddaughter.

And, that priceless advice may have potentially saved their lives.

Hathaway encourages the women in her life to get active, eat healthy, schedule regular health screenings and to get mammograms.

Hathaway is a breast cancer survivor, and so is her oldest daughter. 

“I’ve always been diligent in getting my mammograms,” said Hathaway. “And, I’ve always stressed the importance and encouraged my daughters and granddaughters to do the same.”  

This week, women across the country will celebrate National Women’s Health Week— a weeklong health observance focused on encouraging women to take steps to improve their physical and mental health and lower their risks of certain diseases, including breast cancer.

It’s estimated that 226,870 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women this year, and 39,510 women will die from the disease in 2012 alone.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer. The chance that a woman will be diagnosed with breast cancer is 1 in 8, and the chance that breast cancer will be responsible for a woman's death is about 1 in 36.

Though research has proven the best method of protection from breast cancer is early detection, women are still fearful to make an appointment for a mammogram.

“Most often, women are afraid of what the mammogram will reveal,” said Judy Murphy, supervisor of the Archbold Women’s Center. “They also worry about cost.”

Women who do not get regular screenings are more likely to have larger tumors and later-stage cancer by the time the disease is detected.

“A woman should not put off scheduling her mammogram because she can’t afford it,” said Murphy. If certain qualifications are met, there is financial assistance available for women over the age of 40 as well as support services for breast cancer patients. The staff at the Archbold Women’s Center can guide women in finding financial assistance to help with clinical breast exams, screening and diagnostic mammograms, breast ultrasounds, surgical consultations, emergency biopsies and emergency treatment assistance.”

“When detected in the early stages, breast cancer patients have a greater chance for survival with data presenting a 93-98% five year survival rate,” said John Carico, MD, radiologist at Archbold Women’s Center. “That’s why it’s so important for women to get screened regularly. When breast cancer is detected early, they have the best chance of survival.”

“If you’re scared to get a mammogram, think of your own mother, your spouse or your children,” said Murphy. “You're teaching your family that you are taking care of your body, so it sets a precedent. Getting a mammogram could encourage someone else to do the same, and it may save the life of someone you love.”

Though 70% of women who develop breast cancer have no one in their family who’s ever had it before, the other 30% of women with breast cancer have at least one person in their family who’s had the disease— a mother, an aunt, a sister, etc.

The American Cancer Society recommends women should have their first screening (baseline) mammogram at age 40 or earlier based on clinical indicators or family history, and yearly after age 40 (per American College of Radiology recommendations) or as recommended by their physician.

As a daughter, your lifetime risk of developing breast cancer nearly doubles if your mother had the disease.

For this reason, Hathaway’s granddaughter has already had a baseline mammogram.

“Our family knows firsthand that heredity does have some impact on your health and risks,” said Hathaway. “That’s why I’ve always encouraged the women in my life to get screened.”

For more information and to schedule a mammogram, call the Archbold Women’s Center at (229) 228-2084.