MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC -- In recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Semper Fit Health Promotions and Naval Hospital Beaufort hosted a Breast Cancer Awareness Luncheon at the Officers’ Club, Oct. 7.
The theme for the luncheon was “Pass the Word”. The event included guest speakers and survival stories from women who have survived breast cancer.
“The purpose for this event is to educate women about breast cancer and how they can beat this disease,” said June Kasiak-Gambla, breast care coordinator, NHB. “We want to get the word out about the importance of early detection. If someone can catch abnormalities early, they can improve their chances of survival up to 95 percent.”
One of the guest speakers was South Carolina State Representative Catherine Ceips, who presented a proclamation sponsored by the women caucus in the State House encouraging prevention and early detection of breast cancer. The proclamation was passed in the state legislature earlier this year.
“I got involved after (Kasiak-Gambla) contacted me about what she had planned,” Ceips said. “I knew I had to get involved. This is a message every woman in South Carolina should hear.”
Along with the proclamation, all women were urged to take charge of their health and not settle for a doctor’s decision if it does not feel right.
“It is your health,” said Deirde Young, cancer program coordinator, Lexington Medical Center. “You must trust your inner voice. Some of the saddest stories that I hear are when a doctor thought a patient was too young to have breast cancer, only to find out later that is exactly what was wrong with them the whole time.”
It is important for women to follow through on every possible angle and not stop until you are happy that you have exhausted all means of detection, according to Young.
“The responsibility for your breast health is yours and no one else’s,” Young said. “It is not a doctor’s. If he is wrong, he doesn’t have to deal with the consequences of his mis-diagnosis.”
It is important for women to take responsibility for their health, according to E. Perry Burrus, doctor, Coastal Carolina Surgical Associates. All women should give themselves monthly self-exams, have annual mammograms starting at age 40 and have annual clinical breast examinations by their healthcare provider.
“With women taking an active role with their own health, we are now detecting cancer at earlier stages than ever before,” Burrus said. “This vastly improves their chances for survival.”
At the end of the luncheon, a former NHB nurse shared her own survival story with breast cancer that was diagnosed before her retirement.
“I thought I was going to die,” said Louanne Glaccum. “I think that is the first thought any women has when they are told of their diagnosis.”
The road to cancer survival is hard and filled with many set backs, according to Glaccum. All of the trials are worth being able to have a second chance.
“You just have to deal with the tough times and live with it,” Glaccum said.