by Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell
Special to The New Tri-State Defender
Hundreds of women will “get their life” Saturday at the Live! Memphis summit — literally.
Life-saving, early detection screenings will help scores of women in the fight against breast cancer at the fourth annual Live! Memphis Breast Cancer Summit taking place at Temple of Deliverance COGIC’s G.E. Patterson Family Life Youth Center.
Women of all ages will be treated to breakfast and lunch, health workshops and onsite mammograms, along with gift bags, prize drawings and chances to win complimentary spa services — all free of charge.
This year’s theme is “Live Love Learn” and will feature WMC-TV Action News 5 Anchor Kym Clark as program MC and News 5 Anchor and Traffic Reporter Janeen Gordon, a two-time cancer survivor, as keynote speaker.
“I went last year, and I’m going again this year,” said Paulette Harris. “I have always been afraid I wasn’t really doing my breast exams right. I believe we need to be safe and get breast exams like we should. This event takes away all the excuses.”
Early detection can mean the difference between life and death.
“Among the country’s 25 largest cities, the breast cancer mortality disparity is highest in Memphis, where African-American women are twice as likely to die from breast cancer as white women,” according to a National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) study published in 2016.
Also from NCBI: “A patient-centered approach of demystifying breast cancer (both in patient-provider communication and in community settings) would impact how African-American women cope with breast cancer and respond to information about its diagnosis,” which is what Live! Memphis aims to do.
Consider a tale of two women…
Take Betty Cathey Wilson, a breast cancer survivor who has a family history of breast cancer.
“It was the late ’70s, and I was in my 20s when I felt a lump this particular day,” said Wilson. It turned out to be just a benign cyst, but my doctor had it removed.
Wilson has found three other lumps that were benign, however, in 2007, “I felt a little knot in my breast about the size of a black-eyed pea. I went to the clinic to try and get to see a doctor for a mammogram, but I was on Tenncare, and I couldn’t get in. I was told that another patient couldn’t be squeezed in.
“Four months later, I did see a doctor, and this time, it was cancer. I started radiation treatments in May of 2008, and the growth was removed in June of that year. In 2014, the cancer returned, but was quickly removed because it was found early. All other exams each year after that have been clean. I thank God for that.
“I believe every woman who can attend this meeting should do it. I’m a witness that early detection can save your life.”
And then there is Lena, a 50-something cancer survivor whose cancer has returned. Lena found her first lump in her 40s, which was removed. Then, 10 years later, “I found a knot on the same breast a little lower than the first site. It was cancer. Now, I am getting ready to get radiation treatments before surgery is scheduled for removal.
“We should be tested regularly and keep ourselves informed about breast cancer. While my future is uncertain, my story might help some other woman. Breast cancer is nothing to play with.”
Live Memphis!, scheduled from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., is free of charge but reservations are required. For additional information and to RSVP, visit www.mbcc.live or call (901) 800-5108.