Posted October 5, 2010
Much less was known about breast cancer 26 years ago when survivor Ruth Connor was diagnosed with the disease.
For one thing, self-exams were done, but not stressed the way they are today. And after a woman was diagnosed, support groups were few and far between.
“Back then, I went to the doctor every year for a clinical exam, but to take it upon myself for a self-exam, I didn’t think about it,” said Connor, who had a mastectomy within a week of being diagnosed followed by six months of chemotherapy. “In my case, I had a dull ache in my breast and felt a lump when I touched that area, so that pain was a warning sign. …
“Now, we try to get every woman at age 20 to be aware of her breasts, what’s normal and if there are any changes taking place.”
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Connor said women need to do self-exams monthly after the age of 20, have a yearly clinical breast exam from a doctor or nurse practitioner, and have a mammogram after turning 40, or before if there’s a family history of it, or if there’s anything abnormal about the breast.
As the director of Owensboro Medical Health System’s Mammograms for Life, Connor’s program can help women who are uninsured or underinsured get screened. The program, now in its ninth year, is funded by Susan G. Komen for the Cure and other sources.
The program’s grant covers women in Daviess, Hancock and McLean counties or any women in the surrounding area who can get to Owensboro or Henderson, another screening site.
“What we’re working toward is finding the cancer early,” she said. “Early detection is the best protection.”
When Connor was diagnosed, her support group was pretty much confined to her family and doctor.
But now, there’s LifeSpring (688-4878) at the OMHS HealthPark and the Kentucky Cancer Program’s Mount Hope Weekend (926-3881) to name a couple of support groups.
“You don’t know for sure what you’re getting into, but I wasn’t going to let (cancer) get me down,” she said. “I wanted to put it behind me as soon as I could and go on with my life.”
Rich Suwanski, 691-7315, firstname.lastname@example.org
To Learn More
–For more information, call 314-0104.
–Cancer information is available online at www.komen.org and through the American Cancer Society at www.acs.org.
–The American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K fundraising walk is set for Oct. 24 at Kentucky Wesleyan College.
Since 1993, Strides has rallied walkers across the country to raise awareness and funds to go toward breast cancer research and support programs through ACS. Walking teams are being formed for the event.
For more information, call the Owensboro ACS office at 683-0778.
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Copyright © 2010, Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Ky.