By Becky Carter
President/CNO, Blue Ridge Regional Hospital
The pink ribbon has become synonymous with October and Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Blue Ridge Regional Hospital (BRRH) is eager and prepared to support women by promoting healthy lifestyles to help prevent development of breast cancer, to early detection of breast cancer and when needed, treatment of women with a breast cancer diagnosis.
More than 250,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018. Shockingly, breast cancer will eventually occur in approximately 1 out of every 8 women at some point during their lifetime. Other than skin cancer, it is the most common cancer in women of all races and ethnic groups. Unfortunately, women in North Carolina are experiencing breast cancer at even greater rates than most other states in the nation.
Early detection of breast cancer is critical to successful treatment. One value of a relationship with a local provider is the attention he or she places on maintaining your health. Physicians and advanced practitioners in primary care and women’s health ensure that a proper breast examination and appropriate timeframes for mammograms are met.
When it comes to breast cancer screening, you should be please to know that BRRH is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and the very best technologists. This includes three dimensional tomography, or the 3D mammogram, which can do a better job of pinpointing abnormality in dense breast tissue than a traditional mammogram. This means that women in our community can have their mammograms, close to home, in a private, calm setting, knowing that they are being screened using the most advanced technology available. Further, radiologists with specific training in breast imaging carefully review each mammogram with a comparison to prior images, looking for even the most subtle change.
Should a woman be diagnosed with breast cancer, BRRH is here to support them throughout their journey. Our Mayo Clinic trained general surgeon, Dr. Daniel McLaughlin, has specialized training in breast cancer surgery and he performs those surgeries for BRRH patients. He. Once a treatment plan has been established between the care team and the patient, our breast cancer patients can have all follow-up screening done here at BRRH, see their cancer specialists and receive any needed chemotherapy at our Spruce Pine Infusion Center. Patients can also consult with an oncology nutrition specialist or others at Mission Hospital Cancer Center through our telemedicine program.
All care is coordinated by our breast cancer navigators, who ensure the region’s best cancer team partners effectively with the patient to develop the best plan. The treatment plan for each breast cancer patient is individualized and based on many factors. Every patient’s case is studied individually – what the stage was at the initial point of diagnosis, whether hormones fuel the tumor, if there is a genetic cause of the tumor and a host of other factors.
Medical advances have brought us to a place where treatment for certain breast cancers may be highly targeted, by medicines more specifically focused on the cancer cells. One example of this is a type of breast cancer is called HER2 positive breast cancer; it’s stimulated by a certain protein that the targeted drug Herceptin, FDA-approved 20 years ago, was developed to fight. Since targeted therapies are more discriminating, they affect cancer cells more and healthy cells less. This makes the treatment more effective at destroying the cancer cells, while causing fewer unpleasant side effects.
Mission Health Cancer Services supports BRRH to provide the most current, state-of-the-art, effective care for every breast cancer patient. We are here to support your needs from prevention through screening and treatment. Join us in focusing on Breast Cancer Awareness Month and your own health.
Rebecca W. Carter, MSN, RN, FACHE is President and Chief Nursing Officer of Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine. Carter has served in senior hospital management for over 20 years and previously served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nursing Officer of Transylvania Regional Hospital in Brevard, also a part of the Mission Health system.
Ms. Carter is board certified in healthcare management and is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE). A native of North Carolina, she holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ms. Carter is currently a resident of Burnsville.