May 10th marks the first day of National Women’s Health Week. This week aims at empowering women to take control of their health, making positive choices for their healthiest lives. With breast cancer being the second most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women, VNA Director of the Advanced Illness Management (AIM) Program Deb Jeffery, DNP, shares some helpful tips for prevention and early detection and how VNA is supporting women in the battle.
Prevention & Early Detection
Finding breast cancer early, before it has spread elsewhere in the body, makes treatment much easier, survival much higher and recurrence much lower. The only way to find breast cancer is through breast self-examination and mammograms. Breast self-examination is recommended for all women, regardless of family history, beginning at child-bearing age. Mammograms are recommended annually, starting at age 50. However, if you have a close relative who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, screening may start earlier.
“We are finding a lot of genetic breast cancer, so it’s really important to find it early on, as early as possible,” says Deb. “That’s key — getting it early.”
Most health insurances cover an annual mammogram. If you don’t have insurance, there are many resources available that can provide financial assistance for a mammogram.
A breast cancer diagnosis requires comprehensive support — physical, emotional, social and financial — and VNA is well-versed in providing this critical level of care to breast cancer patients, even those actively seeking curative treatment, through our AIM program.
Treatment for breast cancer can be difficult to endure, with side effects of chemotherapy and radiation ranging from pain to nausea. VNA nurses work closely with the patient’s oncologist to help manage these symptoms from home. However, the care VNA provides goes beyond addressing the physical effects.
“It’s a holistic approach rather than just treating a symptom,” says Deb. “The disease is really a life changer. It can be a long, hard treatment, and people’s lives are disrupted — caregivers and family included. We’ll connect them with spiritual care if desired, try to address any social or financial issues and provide additional resources as needed. There’s a lot to it.”
An education and awareness of breast cancer is an important part of women’s health. By being proactive in prevention and early detection, you’re taking your health into your hands and ensuring you’re leading your healthiest life possible.
To learn more about our AIM program and the care it offers to breast cancer patients, click here.