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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: 482902

Reported Deaths: 9425
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33063488
Hinds31021589
DeSoto30610358
Jackson23687348
Rankin21340370
Lee14909220
Madison14166271
Jones13404227
Forrest13160240
Lauderdale11601305
Lowndes10443176
Lamar10214130
Pearl River9098221
Lafayette8241137
Hancock7514112
Washington7102150
Oktibbeha6964124
Monroe6514164
Neshoba6475201
Warren6464164
Pontotoc630393
Panola6250126
Marshall6126123
Bolivar6115144
Union574186
Pike5613136
Alcorn537290
Lincoln5303131
George471472
Scott459196
Leflore4476140
Prentiss446779
Tippah446480
Itawamba4444100
Adams4416116
Tate4394101
Simpson4335112
Wayne433066
Copiah431787
Yazoo423386
Covington415792
Sunflower4148104
Marion4099104
Leake397586
Coahoma3957100
Newton370875
Grenada3556104
Stone350860
Tishomingo336289
Attala325387
Jasper314162
Winston304691
Clay296473
Chickasaw287065
Clarke282190
Calhoun266141
Holmes262187
Smith250649
Yalobusha221047
Tallahatchie220450
Walthall211058
Greene209045
Lawrence206833
Perry199953
Amite198452
Webster196542
Noxubee178939
Montgomery172454
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162137
Tunica153334
Benton142535
Kemper138640
Choctaw127026
Claiborne126834
Humphreys126637
Franklin116728
Quitman103926
Wilkinson101936
Jefferson91333
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1926
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 789054

Reported Deaths: 14022
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1115991765
Mobile708511234
Madison49865633
Shelby36274315
Baldwin36242495
Tuscaloosa33931548
Montgomery33190678
Lee22680220
Calhoun21211410
Morgan19816335
Etowah19300462
Marshall17680274
Houston16823386
St. Clair15442305
Cullman14602258
Limestone14581188
Elmore14480264
Lauderdale13520281
Talladega12958236
DeKalb12199237
Walker10588330
Blount9720157
Autauga9667137
Jackson9385158
Coffee8882175
Dale8609173
Colbert8534184
Tallapoosa6673181
Escambia6591121
Covington6452167
Chilton6385144
Russell607255
Franklin5795101
Chambers5416134
Marion4800120
Dallas4705189
Clarke463279
Pike462397
Geneva4413117
Winston425895
Lawrence4117108
Bibb409381
Barbour347270
Marengo326285
Monroe320053
Butler318290
Randolph305956
Pickens305274
Henry301858
Hale292685
Cherokee289855
Fayette279673
Washington245448
Crenshaw238470
Cleburne235851
Clay228565
Macon220158
Lamar197743
Conecuh182046
Lowndes170758
Coosa170235
Wilcox159736
Bullock149243
Perry136537
Sumter124536
Greene121443
Choctaw73427
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