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Breast Cancer

awareness October 29, 2019



Defying the Odds by Allie Racette

Breast Cancer survivor Joanne Collins (third from left) defies family history of Breast Cancer mortality and inspires the girls she coaches to never say “I can’t.” - Page 3

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Also Inside:

Taking a Load Off by Robin Caudell

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Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines | Breast Cancer Signs and Symptoms

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Press-rePublican • Breast cancer awareness

tuesday, october 29, 2019

Defying the Odds


Despite a worrying family history and two separate cancer diagnoses, ten years later, Joanne Collins is still going strong. By Allie Racette The American Cancer Society recommends women at average risk for Breast Cancer start getting regular mammograms at age 45.

genetic testing, since the family history of cancer was so strong, and the testing came back positive, showing that Joanne’s genetics heightened her risk for not only breast cancer, but But Potsdam native Joanne ovarian cancer, as well. Collins had a worrying family history of cancer. Four of her “Once we had that information,” aunts and three of her cousins Joanne said, “I decided on a had all died of Breast Cancer complete bi-lateral mastectomy. before the age of 50. “Mainly During the surgery, they also because they didn’t start testing found cancerous cells on the right back then until age 50,” Joanne side. I realized how lucky I was to said. “My mother was the lucky have decided to have them both one; she was diagnosed with taken off. If not, the cancer would breast cancer when she was have returned on the right side.” getting cleared for another Joanne’s mastectomy was surgery.” completed on March 5, 2010, but afterward, she underwent So, Joanne started receiving 20 sessions of radiation therapy. yearly mammograms at age 40, “It was horrible. The skin was and for several years, her doctor being burned off my body. This had been monitoring a cluster of was by far the worst part of the three cysts on her left breast. In treatment.” 2009, her routine mammogram showed more than three times Joanne also took medication that number of cysts, and a regularly for five years to help needle biopsy was necessary. prevent new cancer cells from At first, there was no certainty. forming in that area. “The pain Joanne’s doctor didn’t know was indescribable at times. I whether or not the cysts had prayed to the good Lord -- either become cancerous, not without make me better, or take me from the results of the test. But on this Earth.” November 11, 2009, Joanne’s doctor called to tell her the biopsy Two years after her breast cancer was cancerous, and she would diagnosis, Joanne went to the need to follow-up with a surgeon doctor to begin the process of and oncologist. getting a hysterectomy, since she knew she was also genetically Joanne’s surgeon recommended predisposed to ovarian cancer.

Photo Provided

Joanne (fourth from left) poses with seven of her closest friends, a source of courage and support during her cancer treatment.

The tests she underwent found that ovarian cancer had already begun. “I faced that just as I did the breast cancer. Chemo, radiation, surgery, recovery. Because of all the radiation, I used to joke, ‘Don’t worry; if the lights go out I’ll glow in the dark for years’.”

and did what I needed. We all still get together every five or six weeks just to check on each other -- a true sisterhood.”

Understandably, cancer has left its marks on Joanne. “Cancer has affected my life in so many ways, but the one I face every day is the scars. Reconstruction Though Joanne tries to stay in can help you get the old body good humor about her struggles, back, but nothing ever helps with painful memories of her treatment looking at the scars every day.” still remain. “The ignorance of others is far more damaginging Yet, cancer has changed Joanne than any treatment,” she said. “I in other ways, as well -- less was called the ‘tit-less wonder’, physical, more positive ways. and told that I looked like a man, with no chest and no hair. A “I no longer even think ‘Can I?’. I simple comment from another just do it. Everyone asks, ‘do you can last a lifetime. I look at my have a new outlook on life?’. I say, scars and still hear the ignorance yes. I no longer restrict myself. I of others every day.” no longer take crap from anyone. I love harder and despise less.” Joanne comes from a military family, and her brothers and Cancer has changed the way sisters were scattered across the Joanne relates to others, as country at the time of her cancer well, especially the young people diagnoses. Still, she found a who look to her as a role model. wealth of support in her seven Joanne has coached for over 25 closest friends. “They listened years, and currently coaches girls

Press-rePublican • Breast cancer awareness

4 varsity basketball, girls modified soccer, and varsity tennis for Seton Catholic in Plattsburgh. “I always talk openly about the cancer with the girls at Seton. Many of them have questions, and I have answered them honestly. I think that it’s important for survivors to keep talking, especially to younger generations. And I never allow any of my students to say ‘I can’t’. In my eyes, ‘can’t’ means you won’t even try. And you must keep trying every day.”

tuesday, october 29, 2019 to help myself keep a positive attitude, and had no energy to make others feel better.”

“I never allow any of my students to say ‘I can’t’.”

“Don’t just go to one surgeon. I went to three different doctors before I found one that would listen to what I wanted. The first two surgeons did not believe in genetic testing and refused to do the bilateral mastectomy.”

in peace.”

Joanne’s struggle has also left her with plenty of advice to share with other facing a life-changing cancer diagnosis.

“Go to church (if you believe). I found peace there. No one was asking questions; I just sat

“Have three best friends on speed dial, no matter what time of day. You need those people.” “If you are in a relationship, kick them out one night a week, just for peace and quiet.”

“I would tell everyone who faces cancer to set your limits as to what you will accept from others. For example, I wouldn’t allow anyone to cry in front of me. It sounds tough, but I had very little energy

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Press-rePublican • Breast cancer awareness

tuesday, october 29, 2019

Breast Cancer Signs and Symptoms

Breast cancer is a formidable foe. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 627,000 women lost their lives to breast cancer in 2018. But women are not helpless in the fight against breast cancer, as the WHO notes early detection is critical and could potentially save thousands of lives each year.

A proactive approach is a key component of protecting oneself against breast cancer. While the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.¨ notes that many breast cancer symptoms are invisible and not noticeable without a professional cancer screening, women can keep an eye out for certain signs of breast cancer they might be able to detect on their own. Monthly self-exams can help women more easily identify changes in their breasts. During such selfexams, women can look for the following signs and symptoms and are advised to report any abnormalities they discover to their physicians immediately. •

Changes in how the breast or nipple feels: The NBCF

says nipple tenderness or a lump or thickening in or near the breast or underarm could indicate the presence of breast cancer. Some women may notice changes in the skin texture or an enlargement of the pores in the skin of their breast. In many instances, skin texture has been described as being similar to the texture of an orange peel. Lumps in the breast also may indicate breast cancer, though not all lumps are cancerous.

Change in appearance of the breast or nipple: Unexplained changes in the size or shape of the breast; dimpling anywhere on the breast; unexplained swelling or shrinking of the breast, particularly when the shrinking or swelling is exclusive to one side only; and a nipple that is turned slightly inward or inverted are some signs and symptoms of breast cancer that can affect the appearance of the breast

or nipple. It is common for women’s breasts to be asymmetrical, but sudden asymmetry should be brought to the attention of a physician.

Discharge from the nipple: The NBCF notes that any discharge from the nipple, but particularly a clear or bloody discharge, could be a sign of breast cancer. The NBCF also advises women that a milky discharge when they are not

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breastfeeding is not linked to breast cancer but should be discussed with a physician.

Learning to recognize the signs and symptoms of breast cancer can increase the likelihood of early diagnosis, which greatly improves women’s chances of surviving this disease.

Did you know? Though women may notice various signs and symptoms that could be indicative of breast cancer, breast pain is generally not one of them. The National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.¨ notes that there are various harmless causes of breast pain, such as puberty, menstruation and child birth, but that breast pain is not commonly a symptom of cancer. However, in rare instances breast pain may correlate with cancer. For example, breast tumors may cause pain, but cancerous tumors are not generally reported as painful. Though it may not be linked to breast cancer, breast pain should still be reported to a physician immediately, advises the NBCF.

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Press-rePublican • Breast cancer awareness

tuesday, october 29, 2019

Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines

Cancer screenings are widely recognized as a vital component of personal healthcare. Catching cancer in its earliest stages greatly improves patients’ survival rates, and screening is often the most effective way to find cancer before it grows and spreads to other parts of the body. Women who recognize the importance of breast cancer screenings are also likely recognize just how conflicting advice about screening is. For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists breast cancer screening recommendations from seven different organizations on their website. These organizations include the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the American Cancer Society, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Women who visit the site expecting consensus among these respected organizations might be surprised to learn that no such universal agreement exists.

Breast cancer is a complicated disease, so it’s understandable why there would be differences of opinion within the medical community regarding when women should and should not be screened. But recognizing that breast cancer screening is a complicated issue won’t help women learn when they should be screened. Working with a physician they trust and being open and honest about their health and their family history of breast cancer can help women make the most informed decisions about when and how often to be screened. In the meantime, women can consider these screening guidelines from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, whose cancer experts devised the guidelines based on their extensive experience treating breast cancer patients. Women at average risk The MSKCC defines being at average risk as having: •

no symptoms of breast cancer

Continued on page 8

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Press-rePublican • Breast cancer awareness

8 Continued from page 6

• •

no history of invasive breast cancer (breast cancer that has spread beyond the milk ducts) no history of ductal or lobular carcinoma in situ (abnormal cells that are confined to the milk duct, or lobule) no history of atypia (atypical hyperplasia, a form of benign breast disease) no family history of breast cancer in a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, or child) no suggestion or evidence of a hereditary syndrome such as a BRCA mutation (evidence would be multiple first- and/or second-degree relatives with breast cancer or ovarian cancer) no history of mantle radiation

(a radiation therapy used to treat Hodgkin’s disease and some other conditions) MSKCC recommends that women between the ages of 25 and 40 who are at average risk schedule an annual clinical breast examination. Women 40 and older should have an annual mammogram in addition to their annual clinical breast exam. Women with dense breast tissue may be advised to have an ultrasound as well. All women should consider performing monthly self breast exams beginning at age 20. Doing so helps women become familiar with their breasts, and that familiarity may alert them to abnormalities down the road. Women at above-average risk

tuesday, october 29, 2019

Women whose risk of developing breast cancer is above-average face more complicated screening decisions. This includes women with a family history of breast cancer in a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, or child); history of atypical hyperplasia (a form of benign breast disease); history of lobular carcinoma in situ (abnormal cells that are confined to the milk duct, or lobule); history The



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Press-rePublican • Breast cancer awareness

Taking a Load Off


By Robin Caudell

This year’s revamped format highlighted “Prescription PLATTSBURGH — Smiles, hugs Laughter,” the comedy of Nancy and loads of laughter were par, Witter and Karen Morgan, who once again, for Girls Night Out! teamed up after meeting each other at Nickelodeon’s The Ann Marie LaVigne, Bonnie Funniest Mom in America. Lavigne and Helen Cook, retired kindergarten teachers and Bailey “It just seems to be like this Avenue School colleagues, wonderful aura of just fun, were among the 650, who laughter,” Cook said. thronged the Strand Theatre for the annual event sponsored by “You kind of forget. Just the three the Foundation of CVPH during of us alone have some very Breast Cancer Awareness Month. serious problems of our own in our family. But just go there, it GOOD VIBRATIONS just lifts you. And then, going out for dinner or appetizers and a Robin Caudell/Staff Photo The trio have attended drink, just hanging out. You meet Artists Amy Guglielmo (front, center) and her mother, Judy Guglielmo, arrive consistently for two decades. so many other people as well.” “We all really like to hear the up to MERRY MILESTONES date information that they offer,” Cook, a Plattsburgh resident, This year marks the 21st Girls said. Night Out and upcoming 30th anniversary of the CVPH “We really enjoy, of course, The Foundation. Boobie Sisters. They didn’t do their thing this year, but we love “Its mission has been to provide the music.” women with a night out to spend

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Press-rePublican • Breast cancer awareness


time with each other, laugh a little bit because they are often the caregivers,” said Kerry Haley, associate vice president of the Foundation.

Coryer Staffing, Dannemora Federal Credit Union, Della Auto Group, Lake Champlain Ob/Gyn PC, Peru Federal Credit Union, “She works in the Cancer Center Warren Tire Service Center and and is a great resource for the University of Vermont Health patients when they are trying to Network- CVPH Obstetrics & figure out how to pay their bills, Gynecology. get their insurance settled, and things like that.” Proceeds are used for community“She has been our artist and making our Girls Night Out logo for so many years,” Haley said.

tuesday, october 29, 2019 health programming. “Whether that’s community lectures or health screenings and things like that,” Haley said.

Email Robin Caudell: “They are running the households. rcaudell@pressrepublican.com They are working full time. They Twitter:@RobinCaudell are taking care of everybody else and not taking time to care for themselves. We do it during PAYING IT FORWARD October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and tie that in Each attendee received a green to it as well as far as health.” swag bag, a grocery bag, which is After Haley’s introductory washable and contained freebies remarks, she debuted a new video, from event sponsors. which highlights programming the CVPH Foundation sponsors. “We wanted to give everybody a Diane Laurin was the recipient of special token of appreciation for this year’s Boobie Prize, which attending,” Haley said. is given annually to a community Robin Caudell/Staff Photo member who supports breast- The Breast Cancer Awareness Comedian Karen Morgan greets the 650 women and a sprinkling of men, who Month event is underwritten by attended the 21st Girls Night Out! sponsored by The Foundation of CVPH. cancer awareness.

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Breast Cancer Awareness 2019  

A Special Supplement to the Press-Republican.

Breast Cancer Awareness 2019  

A Special Supplement to the Press-Republican.