More than 160 women gathered for Every Woman Matters, a free health and wellness breakfast at Christiana Care’s John H. Ammon Medical Education Center Oct. 6, to learn more about cancer prevention, screenings and treatment, to celebrate survivorship and to honor those who have faced a cancer journey.
Now in its sixth year, the popular program has broadened beyond its original focus on breast cancer to include all cancers that affect women.
This year’s sessions covered breast, skin and cervical cancers, with a special focus on imaging dense breast tissue, early skin cancer detection for women of color, vaccinations for human papillomavirus (HPV), and prevention strategies for triple-negative breast cancer.
Those in attendance experienced Christiana Care’s newest cancer outreach tool – The Story of BRENDA. Although BRENDA is not a real person, Christiana Care’s Community Research Advisory Board hopes the story and acronym they created will help women remember key steps for reducing their risk of breast cancer, especially the aggressive triple negative form of the disease for which there currently is no targeted treatment. BRENDA stands for:
- Reduce consumption of alcoholic and sugary beverages.
- Exercise at least 2-½ hours a week.
- Nutritious foods.
- Do not smoke.
- Achieve a healthy body weight.
A group of about 30 volunteer ambassadors are now trained and ready to share The Story of BRENDA with sororities, churches, social, service and professional groups throughout the community. To schedule a free presentation for your organization, call 302-623-4661.
Margot Savoy, M.D., MPH, FAAFP, attending physician at Christiana Care and chair of Family and Community Medicine at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, offered a compelling case for vaccinating teenagers against HPV. Nearly 80 percent of all women – and men – in the United States carry this pervasive but preventable cancer-causing virus, and most are completely unaware.
“The reality is, you likely have, have had or will have HPV,” said Dr. Savoy. “If I told you I could give you a shot today that was nearly 100 percent effective in stopping cancer, you’d be lining up around the block. Yet because of what they read on social media, parents are still hesitant to immunize their children. People don’t appreciate how common and how devastating HPV can be, but we have an effective way to protect our children from it.”
In her welcome remarks at the breakfast, Doneene Keemer Damon, Esq., chair of the Board for Christiana Care and a breast cancer survivor, acknowledged that a cancer diagnosis is “startling,” but said it is just the beginning of a journey for women, their friends and families.
“Information is knowledge, and knowledge is key,” said Damon. “Taking control of your medical issues and your body is really important. Cancer is just one part of who we are. If you do have cancer, I assure you the Graham Center is a gem in our back yard. We need to shout from the rooftops about what we have right here in our community.”
Every Woman Matters is hosted by the Community Health Outreach and Education Department of the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute, and supported by the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, Susan G. Komen for the Cure Philadelphia and Delaware’s service and professional sororities Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Zeta Phi Beta, Sigma Gamma Rho and Chi Eta Phi.