News / Health

Foundation Promotes Breast Cancer Self-Exams, Education

Foundation Promotes Breast Cancer Self-Exams, Educationi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
March 19, 2014 10:33 PM
Early detection is the key to helping women survive breast cancer. But medical experts say getting that message out remains a challenge. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an organization called the Get In Touch Foundation is promoting breast self-exams for women and regular medical checks for early treatment.
Mike O'Sullivan
Early detection is the key to helping women survive breast cancer, but medical experts say getting the message out remains a challenge.  An organization called the Get In Touch Foundation promotes self-breast exams for women and regular medical checks for early treatment.

Breast  cancer survivor Mary Ann Wasil is at an inner city high school, talking about breast health and breast cancer.   

Some of the students have had family members with the disease but most know little about it.  They are learning more through an educational tool called a daisy wheel, a small instructional device designed in the shape of the flower that teaches them how to do self exams and encourages medical screenings if they find anything abnormal.  Their risk is low now, but will rise as they get older.

Wasil was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years ago, at age 39.

“My son had just turned 10 and my daughters were 12 and 13 at the time, and I looked at them and I thought, I never had a family history of breast cancer.  That is not true for them," she said.

A family history of breast cancer raises the risk.  Wasil's efforts educating her children about the disease led to this educational program, which is now in 26 countries.

Breast cancer rates are higher in industrial countries like the United States, where one in eight women will be diagnosed with the disease in her lifetime.  The World Health Organization says places like Africa have a much lower rate, partly because of differences in diet and lifestyle.  But the breast cancer rate is increasing in the developing world, and industrial countries have a much higher rate of survival because of early detection and treatment.

The actress Angelina Jolie brought attention to the condition when she revealed last year she had both breasts removed in a double mastectomy after learning that a rare genetic mutation and her family history left her at high risk of breast cancer.

Jolie's doctor,  Kristi Funk, says education and medical screenings are crucial.  

“I tell my patients that while we all hope that there would be a cure or a vaccination or something that will just be the magic bullet to stop this disease from ever starting, it is a long ways away.  And it is not even on the horizon.  So currently our best defense against this disease is early detection.  Early stage breast cancer is 98 percent curable," she said.

Dr. Funk and a colleague were honored by the Get In Touch Foundation at its annual luncheon in Los Angeles.  Also present was actor Rob Lowe, who lost his mother and grandmother to breast cancer and is active in spreading the message about early detection.

“Inevitably I meet so many heroes, whether it is the heroism of fighting a tough disease or it is the heroism of people who do nothing but raise money to help people in this fight, or it is the doctors who are on the forefront of the medical technologies.  So inevitably for me, I get inspired," he said.

Survivor Mary Ann Wasil is undergoing treatment for a recurrence of her cancer.  She says she has never felt more alive, and is spreading the message that breast cancer can be beaten.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs