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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid