by TERESA SCHIFFER
Sponsored by Central Florida Health Care
Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the weather is starting to cool off a bit in Central Florida, it’s the perfect time for the annual Central Florida Health Care Golf tournament. This special event is a chance to raise much-needed funds to provide mammograms to uninsured and underinsured patients throughout Polk County.
“They raised enough money last year to provide 608 women with mammograms,” says Central Florida Health Care’s Natalie Wipert, APRN, CNM.
“That’s a big opportunity for us to help make sure the uninsured and underinsured get their mammograms done on schedule.”
Wipert goes on to explain that women should begin getting mammograms annually at age 40, preferably. If patients choose not to have the screenings done at that age, then they should definitely have one performed at age 50.
“Sometimes cost is the reason that stands in the way of that, so I’m excited that I’m involved with an organization that is working to provide that,” Wipert says.
Central Florida Health Care is dedicated to providing a full range of healthcare services to those in need and to overcoming the barriers to access experienced by many. This includes making sure that patients who wish to begin screenings for breast cancer are able to do so. This aspect of the care is of special significance to Central Florida Health Care CEO and breast cancer survivor Ann Claussen.
“Every year, we put out information about breast cancer awareness and mammograms, and when we know we are able to provide for those women who are uninsured or underinsured, we will put out information for that,” Wipert says.
About one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, and more than 40,000 women die of the disease in the U.S. each year. Early intervention is the key to a positive outcome, and mammograms play an important role in getting care when it’s needed. Being familiar enough with one’s body to be able to recognize unusual changes is another way women can protect themselves so that they are able to get medical attention in time should a problem arise.
“Breast cancer is extremely survivable today, but early detection is the key,” Wipert says.
There is less emphasis on self-detection than there was a few decades ago. The reason for this is that in many cases, women would report finding a lump in the breast to their physician, and a biopsy would be performed only to discover that the mass was benign and posed no threat to the patient. Healthcare professionals wanted to decrease the number of invasive procedures being performed on patients unnecessarily, so the message was adjusted.
Of course, any time a painful lump is detected it should still be examined by a healthcare provider. A tiny, virtually unnoticeable lump can be a true harbinger of danger. These types of tumors generally will not be something a patient is able to discern on their own and can be detected only through a mammogram. This is what makes the recommended screenings so vital to saving lives.
Some warning signs that women should watch for include new lumps in the breast tissue or underarm area, thickening or swelling of the breasts, irritation or dimpling of the skin of the breast, or changes to a nipple. The presence of any of these symptoms warrants a visit to a healthcare provider, and Central Florida Health Care is equipped and ready to address your concerns.