By Kevin Hendricks

Caregiver & Co-Survivor

I am not a cancer survivor, but I did survive as my wife’s caregiver during her fight with cancer. There is a saying I heard throughout our struggle, which states there are only four types of people in the world: those who are caregivers, those who have been caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will someday need a caregiver.

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AuthorJoseph Gautier

By Jasmine Meyer

Louisiana Breast & Cervical Health Program Manager

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time when the Louisiana Breast & Cervical Health Program (LBHCP) reminds all women they should be getting regular mammograms. And remember if you need help getting one – whether it’s affording the overall screening, meeting a co-pay, not having transportation –whatever! We can help

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AuthorJoseph Gautier
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By Laura Ricks

Louisiana Cancer Prevention & Control Programs Communications Manager

Over the last few years, we’ve made huge jumps in fighting breast cancer. We are catching breast cancer earlier, so more and more women across the country, are surviving and living full lives. So why are so many Louisiana women dying of breast cancer? And why are they also dying of cervical cancer, which is entirely preventable?

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AuthorJoseph Gautier

By Dr. Donna Williams, DrPH

Director, Louisiana Cancer Prevention and Control Programs

Dramatic, moody, self-absorbed, rebellious. These are all words I’ve used to describe my teenager. I have to admit that the teenage years have been a roller coaster. My cute little snuggle bunny who used to put his head on my shoulder while I read him a bedtime story, now communicates with grunts and eye rolls. I tell myself it’s all part of growing up.

Then the bomb is dropped - a parent diagnosed with metastatic cancer. 

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AuthorJoseph Gautier

By Jasmine Meyer, MPH

LCP Program Manager

Last year during a routine check-up, my new doctor found a lump in my right breast and referred me to the mammography department of her clinic for follow-up diagnostic testing.  It took me weeks of persistent calls to book my appointment, and when I showed up I was sent home without a mammogram because the referral wasn’t logged in their electronic records.  I played phone tag with my doctor for another few weeks before the referral was recorded, and I had to begin the process of booking a mammogram all over again. The results were benign, but I was instructed to come back in six months to check on the lump.

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AuthorJoseph Gautier

By Dr. Donna Williams, DrPH

Director, Louisiana Cancer Prevention and Control Programs

 

Human papillomavirus. It’s a mouthful. HPV for short. But what is it? It is a very, very common virus of which there are more than 100 different types. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that at any one time, 79 million Americans are infected with HPV and about 14 million are newly infected each year.  In fact, HPV is so common that just about everyone will be infected at some point in their lives.

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AuthorJoseph Gautier

By Devin Moseley

Young Breast Cancer Survivor

 

In the 1950s, my maternal grandmother died of breast cancer when my mom was 16. Knowing this disease was in my lineage made me hyper aware of screening and prevention options, as I always had a sense that it wasn’t “if,” but rather “when” I would be diagnosed myself.

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AuthorJoseph Gautier

In July 2016, at the ripe old age of 27, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I first noticed a lump in my breast in early June while I was performing a breast self-examination. Initially, I thought it may have been hormonal changes due to my menstrual cycle, but when the lump did not shrink/go away by the beginning of July, I had it examined. At first, my gynecologist thought the lump was a cyst, but he sent me to get a mammogram anyway because of my family history. Within five days of my first visit, and after a mammogram, ultrasound, and biopsy, I was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer.

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AuthorJoseph Gautier

LBCHP has had a growth spurt! Since Medicaid Expansion, we have developed new eligibility criteria to cover more women, and increased our reach in the state to providers in Alexandria, Lake Charles and Zachary. We know Louisiana has high death rates from both breast and cervical cancer, in part due to lack of screening and access to healthcare. It is our hope that these new improvements will help us reach more women who need life-saving cancer screenings across the state.

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AuthorJoseph Gautier

World Cancer Day, February 4th, happens to fall between two big cancer awareness months: cervical & colorectal cancer. Director of the Louisiana Cancer Prevention & Control Programs (LCP), Donna Williams, told the Louisiana Radio network during her interview that, “The goal of World Cancer Day is to raise awareness about cancer prevention methods…Everywhere all across the world there are things that can be done to decrease the deaths from cancer.” 

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AuthorJoseph Gautier

February is Black History Month, a time when we celebrate the contributions African Americans have made to our country. But even as we celebrate, we must remember that African Americans suffer the highest cancer mortality rate of any racial or ethnic group in the US. Here in Louisiana, white and black women are diagnosed with breast cancer at equal rates, but black women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer before age 45, and are more likely to die from the disease. These disparities have been linked to a host of factors, including genetics and the fact that black women’s breast cancer is often more advanced when it is first diagnosed. 

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AuthorJoseph Gautier

Confused about your well-woman visit? You’re not alone. Changing guidelines and recommendations have led to some confusion on when to have your visit, who should have a well-woman visit, and what a well-woman visit should include.

A well-woman visit or gynecological exam includes a pelvic exam, which is a physical examination, a Pap test (Pap smear). It may also include an HPV test if you are 30 years old or older.

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AuthorJoseph Gautier

December is a time of year that we often worry about material things, like buying gifts, and get caught up on the “wants” instead of the “needs.” This holiday season, we ask that you consider donating life-saving cancer screenings to women across Louisiana who urgently need them.

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AuthorJoseph Gautier

Women are more likely to die from breast cancer in Louisiana than they are in other states, while young black women in the state suffer disproportionatey from the disease. Two programs, financed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and housed at the LSU School of Public Health, are working to help combat the disease and support the women affected.

No-Cost Mammograms and Pap Tests for Louisiana Women Who Qualify

The Louisiana Breast and Cervical Health Program (LBCHP) performs no-cost breast and cervical cancer screenings (including mammograms and Pap tests) for low-income, uninsured and underinsured women across the state. Louisiana has the second highest breast cancer death rate in the United States, in spite of having a lower average incidence rate, with most of those deaths attributed to a lack of health care access and screenings. There is a program like LBCHP in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, five U.S. territories and 11 tribal organizations, as mandated by Congress in the Breast and Cervical Cancer Mortality Prevention Act of 1990. In Louisiana, LBCHP currently reaches approximately 14 percent of the eligible population.

To find the nearest LBCHP medical provider or to learn more, go www.lbchp.org or call 1-888-599-1073. To donate, go to https://give.lsuhealthfoundation.org/LBCHP.

SurviveDAT Offers Support for Young Survivors

Breast cancer is somewhat rare under the age of 45, but it does happen and it happens more in the South. Any woman can be diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age, but for reasons unknown, young black women are more likely to develop the disease at those younger ages, which skews the numbers of people affected in the southern United States.

These young women often face issues that do not affect older women with the disease, including often more aggressive types of the disease, fertility decisions (which should be addressed before starting treatment), genetic factors (affecting male family members too), relationship concerns with partners and children, career implications, financial considerations and more.

To address those and improve the quality of life for these women, SurviveDAT, an in-person and online support group was established in south Louisiana three years ago. It proved so successful, SurviveDAT has now expanded its online advice and support capabilities to north Louisiana and leads the Gulf States Young Breast Cancer Survivor Network, which provides the same types of resources in Mississippi and Alabama.

Going online in the form of websites and social media makes sense in the Gulf States, as much of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama are rural and many women are unable to travel to in-person support groups. In contrast, they do have digital access, with young women, especially African-Americans, using social media platforms and owning smartphones at high rates. SurviveDAT now enables these women to find everything from health advice and the latest news on breast cancer to where they may find a makeup artist skilled in recreating eyebrows. To learn more, go to www.survivedat.org. To donate, go to https://give.lsuhealthfoundation.org/survivedat.

What Every Woman Needs To Know

Every woman, no matter her age, needs to watch and check for symptoms of breast cancer. These include:

  •         New lump in the breast or underarm (armpit)
  •         Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
  •         Skin irritation or dimpling
  •         Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or breast
  •         Pulling in of the nipple area or the breast
  •         Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood
  •         Any change in the size or shape of the breast
  •         Pain in any area of the breast 

People should also be aware of risk factors. Being female and older are two ofthe biggest risk factors (women are 100 times more likely to get breast cancer than men), while other risk factors that people cannot change include: genetics, family history, dense breasts, women who started menstruating early or went through menopause late, previous chest radiation, exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) and long-term use of hormone replacement therapy.

Risk factors that women can change include: having had no children or a first child after age 30, drinking alcohol, being overweight and lack of physical activity. Recent studies are also linking tobacco use and night shift work to breast cancer.

Get Screened

All major health organizations agree that women 50 to 74 years should have regular mammograms, with no more than two years between them and most recommending yearly screenings. Some, such as the American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen, recommend women start at age 40.

 

The Louisiana Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (LBCHP) and SurviveDAT are part of the CDC-funded Louisiana Cancer Prevention and Control Programs (LCP) housed at the LSU Health Sciences Center School of Public Health. For more information, go to www.louisianacancer.org.

 

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AuthorLaura Ricks