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Alabama program helps breast cancer patients feel at ease

MGN Online

A heart-shaped pillow and a chat may seem like small gestures but for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients at DCH Health Systems, it could be just the kind of support they need as they begin treatment.

Posted: Oct 18, 2020 9:30 PM

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — A heart-shaped pillow and a chat may seem like small gestures but for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients at DCH Health Systems, it could be just the kind of support they need as they begin treatment.

Behind the Ribbon is an outreach program at DCH Health Systems that has been providing peer-to-peer support and educational resources since 2014.

“Our biggest concern, at that time, (was) a lot of women were having surgery done first as their treatment. And sometimes it’s the only treatment they may need. We really wanted women to know that they are not alone and there’s support,” said registered nurse and patient navigator Katrina Lewis.

A major part of this support comes from DCH volunteers who have been through breast cancer treatment themselves. They spend time talking with newly diagnosed patients. It could be a one-time chat or many conversations, said Jana Smith, Lewis and Faye Manderson Cancer Center outreach coordinator.

“There’s something powerful in those conversations between women when one has been there and conquered it and been victorious and be able to tell someone else who is on the front end of that battle that ‘You can do it,’ ” Smith said.

Normally, these conversations would be held in-person and the patient would choose when and where they would meet on the health system’s campus. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, these in-person chats were modified to phone call sessions as a precaution. The in-person visits currently are being transitioned back as an available option.

Another part of the Behind the Ribbon program is that patients are provided a kit of supplies they may need after surgery. This kit includes a breast cancer treatment handbook, a heart-shaped pillow, a post-surgical bra that is designed for the first six weeks after surgery, and a tote bag.

“It may not sound like much but I get a lot of calls saying that’s the biggest, best thing they’ve ever gotten,” Lewis said of the pillow.

The pillow helps protect the patient’s surgery site from their seatbelt when traveling. It also can be used when the patient is lying down, to reduce pressure from the arm.

Smith said the breast cancer treatment handbook is a “phenomenal resource,” and that it addresses questions and fears the patient may have. The book also has places to take notes should they have questions to ask their doctors later.

The kits are funded through the DCH Foundation’s Breast Cancer Fund. This fund also helps provide free breast screenings.

The Lewis and Faye Manderson Cancer Center will be hosting two free breast screenings this month.

The first will be held on Oct. 19 and is for the general population. The deadline to register for this date is Oct. 14.

The second screening will be on Oct. 26 and designed for the Latina community. The deadline to register for this date is Oct. 21.

The screenings will be held from 5-7 p.m. for both dates at the cancer center.

Registration is required. No walk-ins will be accepted. To register, call 205-343-8493.

Other criteria to participate in the screenings include:

— Women must be 40 years of age or older

— Have no personal history of breast cancer

— At least 12 months since their last mammogram

— Little or no health insurance

— Must live in the 11 county DCH service area

Because of COVID-19, only those who are preregistered, fever-free and are wearing a mask will be allowed in for the screenings.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 293542

Reported Deaths: 6638
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19560229
Hinds18674385
Harrison16512276
Rankin12595262
Jackson12451217
Lee9663160
Madison9400195
Jones7891145
Forrest7140136
Lauderdale6784225
Lowndes6008137
Lamar584480
Lafayette5707113
Washington5159128
Bolivar4594120
Oktibbeha439991
Panola426892
Pearl River4116128
Warren4114113
Pontotoc407368
Marshall399492
Monroe3980126
Union392873
Neshoba3767166
Lincoln3464100
Hancock339973
Leflore3358118
Sunflower317185
Tate300874
Pike298393
Scott292567
Alcorn290360
Itawamba288871
Yazoo283862
Tippah275665
Copiah274557
Coahoma272766
Simpson271778
Prentiss268658
Leake251770
Wayne251340
Marion250778
Covington247878
Grenada245876
Adams233277
George230645
Newton224751
Winston220275
Jasper211844
Tishomingo211765
Attala206269
Chickasaw200650
Holmes181670
Clay178149
Stone171429
Tallahatchie169839
Clarke168671
Calhoun156428
Smith151831
Yalobusha142936
Greene126833
Walthall123540
Noxubee122729
Perry121434
Montgomery121237
Lawrence119321
Carroll117623
Amite110832
Webster109929
Jefferson Davis100531
Tunica98623
Claiborne97729
Benton93124
Humphreys91626
Kemper89522
Quitman77014
Franklin75519
Choctaw69516
Wilkinson62226
Jefferson61427
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 491110

Reported Deaths: 9831
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson706291356
Mobile35894721
Madison32255442
Tuscaloosa23996409
Montgomery22462494
Shelby21820215
Baldwin19670274
Lee14900150
Morgan13599249
Calhoun13175285
Etowah13143319
Marshall11226206
Houston10048259
Elmore9337183
Limestone9335134
Cullman8869179
St. Clair8783220
Lauderdale8581210
DeKalb8429174
Talladega7481163
Walker6504251
Jackson6477102
Autauga620389
Blount6086125
Colbert5978118
Coffee5230102
Dale4621106
Russell401831
Franklin397876
Covington3956106
Chilton384298
Escambia377172
Tallapoosa3572141
Clarke342949
Dallas3397141
Chambers3392108
Pike293071
Lawrence281384
Marion280894
Winston246166
Bibb244260
Geneva238670
Marengo233354
Pickens223954
Barbour209951
Hale208868
Fayette199756
Butler195165
Henry182041
Cherokee176438
Monroe165938
Randolph163140
Washington156634
Crenshaw143554
Clay143354
Macon140943
Cleburne136839
Lamar131732
Lowndes130648
Wilcox120825
Bullock116336
Conecuh106523
Perry105327
Sumter98431
Coosa87823
Greene87032
Choctaw54823
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