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Evans remembered at cancer seminar

By Staff, 10/30/17 7:52 AM


PRESCOTT – A sea of pink greeted those attending the “Stand Strong and Get Your Pink On” breast cancer seminar Saturday morning.

The cafeteria at Prescott High School was decorated in pink and white with tables covered with pink tablecloths. However, all wasn’t fun and games as those present were asked to remember Sandra Evans, a member of the Prescott School Board, who died earlier Saturday. Earlier this year Evans held an event for cancer survivors in the cafeteria.

Patricia Blake, organizer of Saturday’s event, said Evans had asked her to speak at the previous pink out event, and when she (Blake) saw the number of women affected, she realized something needed to be done and came up with this event.

Candles were lit for the survivors, those dedicated to survivors, those still struggling with breast cancer, those who lost the battle, with one candle lit for Evans.

Robert Poole, superintendent of the Prescott School District, welcomed everyone, thanking the vendors and students for participating. He said it was important to get students involved in events such as this.

He told the group their job is to keep fighting the fight and supporting one another as well as remembering the legacy of those who have gone before us. “It’s our job now. The torch has been passed.”

Dr. Dana Abraham, with the Abraham Breast Clinic and Arkansas Surgical Hospital, was the featured speaker. She talked in depth about breast cancer, telling about the common problems with cancer and new techniques being used in its treatment.

Dr. Abraham said most of the patients she sees have benign tumors and don’t have cancer. She talked about the development of breasts and breast pain. Most pain, she told the audience, is cyclical and due to hormonal changes. However, there is pain that is non-hormonal and 80 percent of the time this pain is felt on the left side, while being felt on the right side 15 percent of the time. Rarely, she added, is it felt on both sides. Sometimes the pain is caused by something as simple as a bra that doesn’t fit properly or doesn’t give the right amount of support. Breast pain can also be caused by seat belts, caffeine, salt and sugars and a person’s body mass index. According to Dr. Abraham, 80 percent of the time the pain goes away by itself, but can be treated with any over the counter pain medication. In some instances, though supplements, such as flaxseed and Vitamin E, are used. Other treatments include: mild hot and cold compresses, wearing sports bras when exercising and finding ways to reduce stress.

Surgery, she said, is a last resort. Before having surgery done, Dr. Abraham said, it would be advisable to have a doctor see if they can feel the painful mass, and if the pain hasn’t improved in six to eight weeks, look to other potential treatments.

She told the group most nipple discharge is normal and nothing to worry about, unless a woman feels a mass in her breast and the discharge is clear or brown and bloody. However, she continued, there could be a non-cancerous reason for such discharge, including age, hormonal fluctuations, thyroid conditions or harmless papillomas. One simple treatment, she said, is to stop squeezing the nipple. If this doesn’t work, medication and surgical removal are options, especially if a cancer is involved.

Zuska’s Disease, she said, is mostly seen in smokers, with pus coming out. Antibiotics can be used, but if they aren’t effective, surgery may be required.

Today, Dr. Abraham said, cancer is more about the biology of the situation than anything else. She pointed out there are different type of biopsies that can be performed and there are different types of cancers. The non-invasive cancers can’t spread, but they can, if left untreated, become invasive. The treatment for non-invasive cancer, she told the audience, is for that area only, while treatment for invasive cancer is for the entire body. She reminded everyone different chemicals are used to treat different cancers when it comes to chemotherapy, while radiation treatments target the specific location of the cancer. She added hormone treatments may also be effective at times.

One thing being offered today, she said, is Oncoplasty, with plastic surgery being used as part of the treatment. In essence, breast reduction surgery is done simultaneously with cancer surgery, with plastic surgery used to give breasts a more natural appearance. Sometimes, she said, a woman’s breasts are simply too big for their body type and need to be reduced. She pointed out larger breasts don’t take radiation well.

Dr. Abraham was followed by entertainment from the Prescott Elementary School music class and Cade Haynie. Edie Greenwood told everyone about resources available in the area, starting with the Nevada County Cancer Association. The NCCA, she said, helps people with the cost of going to and from treatments. Those who need help are required to bring a doctor’s cancer diagnosis and the number of treatments they’ve been scheduled to undergo to receive help. The NCCA also has wigs and scarves available.

Baptist Hospital also offers assistance in diagnostics and some financial help. Baptist can also do ultrasound to help find cancers. Greenwood said CARTI of Little Rock, St. Michael’s Hospital and Wadley Regional Hospital also have programs to help.

The Arkansas Department of Health, she added, partners with UAMS to have its mobile mammogram van come to Nevada County roughly every three months. Appointments are needed and those who schedule an appointment need to understand no diagnosis will be done nor will ultrasound testing.

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