Kathy Sena

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Here's a look at the latest resources to keep you in-the-know.

Breast-cancer-related Web sites abound, but when noted breast surgeon and author Susan Love, M.D., appears online, it's worth shouting about. Love has created a new Web site (www.susanloveMD.com) for breast-cancer patients that launches on October 1. It provides resources, treatment guidelines, information in treatment breakthroughs and much more.

Formerly the director of the Revlon/UCLA Breast Cancer Institute, Love was recently appointed by President Clinton to the National Cancer Advisory Board. "In a way, it's what I've always done," said Love of her new online venture. "I have always believed that information is power. My hope is that this new site will empower women around the world to make informed choices and ultimately to receive better breast-cancer care."

 

Know the Facts

This month, spend ten dollars on yourself. It could save your life. Know the Facts...Know for Sure, is a new breast-cancer early-detection video produced by the American Medical Women's Association and the American College of Radiology. The video answers questions about mammograms, clinical exams, and breast self-exams.

The video is available from the American Institute for Cancer Research. To order, call (800) 843-8114 (to charge to a credit card) or send a ten-dollar check, payable to AICR, to: American Institute for Cancer Research, Attn: BC Video; 1759 R Street NW, Washington D.C. 20009.

 

Partners Need Support, Too

When a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, her partner often has questions and worries, too. The Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization offers help and support for men as well as women.

The organization strives to make men more comfortable in seeking counseling for breast-cancer-related matters. In fact, if they desire, men calling the Y-ME 24-hour hotline may ask to speak with a male counselor. Call (800) 221-2141.

 

A Life-Changing Diagnosis

in More Ways Than One

There are lots of ways to fight breast cancer. But wearing a pink ribbon just isn't Fran Visco's style. When Visco, then a thirty-nine-year-old mother of a fourteen-month-old son, found out she had breast cancer in 1987, she decided to go on the attack--both with her own treatment plan and eventually by founding the National Breast Cancer Coalition in 1991.

"When my own struggle began, I learned that treatment options hadn't changed in 50 years," says Visco, adding that she also learned that funding for research into causes and a cure was "horribly inadequate."

So she formed her own organization, one that would increase funding for research and train women to become leaders in the campaign to stop breast cancer.

Today the NBCC, with Visco still at the helm as president, consists of more than 500 member organizations and 60,000 individual members. The organization still focuses on prodding Congress to increase funding, educating women about the latest scientific information on breast cancer, and providing leadership training.

Visco herself is perhaps the best advertisement for what those leadership skills can accomplish. In 1993 President Clinton appointed her as one of three members of the President's Cancer Panel; she was reappointed in 1996.

That recognition gave her a chance to speak up at the national level. But Visco firmly believes in speaking up at all levels--even including wearing an NBCC pin that says "Breast Cancer. Say it. Fight it. Cure it. Damn it!" (The pin is sent to new members who contribute $35 or more.)

"NBCC's approach is anything but silent," says Visco, who lives in Philadelphia with her husband and her son, now 13. If you'd like to help the NBCC make some noise, call (202) 296-7477 or visit www.stopbreastcancer.org.

 

Shoe Shopping for a Good Cause

QVC will present "FFANY Shoes on Sale," the Fashion Footwear Association of New York's sixth annual fundraiser to benefit breast-cancer research and education, on Monday, October 4, 1999, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. CST.

Five prominent breast cancer research centers will benefit. You can't beat this sale: Half-price designer shoes and a very worthy cause.

 

Mammograms: When to Start?

Members of the American Medical Association have argued for some time now about when women should begin getting mammograms, so don't expect a final verdict any time soon. In the meantime, here's the AMA's recently updated recommendation:

* Annual screening mammograms and clinical breast exams for asymptomatic women 50 years or older.

* Screening mammograms and clinical breast examinations at one-to-two-year intervals for asymptomatic women ages 40 to 49.

Of course, you'll want to talk with your doctor about your health history--and your family health history--before deciding when to schedule a mammogram. And be sure to schedule follow-up mammograms as recommended by your doctor.

 

Finally! Medical Terminology Made Simple

A new, easy-to-navigate Web site, www.imaginis.net/breasthealth, offers frequently updated information on breast-cancer screening and diagnosis, clinical trials, a discussion forum, explanation of medical language in everyday terms, and links to many helpful resources. Check it out.  

Kathy Sena is a writer specializing in health issues.

 
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