October 1, 2013 > ÔThink PinkÕ Offers Breast Health Education and Support
ÔThink PinkÕ Offers Breast Health Education and Support
Cancer Survivor Jennifer Tilton One of Speakers at 5th Annual Event
For the fifth year in a row, Washington Hospital is hosting its free Think Pink event to coincide with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. Think Pink offers women the latest information on breast health as well as breast cancer screening guidelines and treatments. This yearÕs event is supported by a grant from Genentech.
The event is scheduled for Tuesday, October 15 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in the Tent Atrium at Washington West Ð located at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont. Guest speakers at the program will include:
* Surgeon Dr. William Dugoni, Medical Director of the WomenÕs Health Program at Washington Township Medical Foundation. Dr. Dugoni will provide an update on Washington WomenÕs CenterÕs nationally accredited Breast Center.
* Washington Hospital Radiologist Dr. Mimi Lin, who will discuss breast cancer risk assessment screening and mammography guidelines.
* Oncologist Dr. Vandana Sharma, Medical Director of Washington HospitalÕs Genetics Counseling Program and Oncology Program. Dr. Sharma will discuss genetic testing and counseling, and prophylactic mastectomy for women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
* Dr. Vera Packard, Executive Director of the HERS Breast Cancer Foundation, who will offer a motivational presentation on ÒEmbracing Change.Ó
In addition, the event will feature 12-year breast cancer survivor Jennifer Tilton, who will share her own success story and her insights as a woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the early age of 27. (See story below.)
ÒThink Pink is a great opportunity for women to learn more about taking care of themselves and to talk with experts in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment,Ó says Ruth Traylor, Washington HospitalÕs Director of Community Outreach. ÒIn addition to presentations by our guest speakers, we will offer screenings for cholesterol and glucose levels, bone density testing to screen for osteoporosis, and blood pressure checks.Ó
Traylor notes that participants at the Think Pink event also will have the opportunity to speak with representatives of various organizations, including:
* The HERS Breast Cancer Foundation
* The American Cancer Society
* Drivers for Survivors, which provides no-cost rides to medical appointments
* The Washington WomenÕs Center
* The Washington Hospital Radiology Department
* The Washington Township Medical Foundation
In addition, the Think Pink event will offer various interactive activities for participants, and light refreshments will be served.
ÒThis year, we will be offering free chair massages to women who attend Think Pink,Ó says Washington WomenÕs Center Coordinator Laura Constantine, R.N. ÒAlso, throughout October, we will offer a ÔThink Pink SpecialÕ with 50-minute massages for only $50 at the WomenÕs Center. Our massage therapists are all oncology certified.Ó
The Washington WomenÕs Center offers a variety of advanced diagnostic services as well as numerous wellness and support programs for women in the community. The WomenÕs Center was designated a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence in June 2012 by the American College of Radiology. The WomenÕs Center also is accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), a non-governmental not-for-profit organization established to identify and recognize breast centers that provide the best possible care to patients with breast disease.
ÒAt the WomenÕs Center, women with an abnormal screening mammography are able to obtain diagnostic mammography within three days,Ó Constantine notes. ÒSometimes we are able to get the patient in for a diagnostic mammography the same day. The median time from abnormal diagnostic mammography to diagnosis is seven days. In addition, the breast-conserving surgery re-excision rate at Washington Hospital is 8 percent, considerably lower than the national average of 23 percent.Ó
To register to attend this yearÕs Think Pink event, or for more information, visit whhs.com/think-pink or call (800) 963-7070.
<Sidebar Story within Think Pink Main Article>
Young Survivor Savors Life After Breast Cancer
At age 27, Jennifer Tilton had everything going for her. An energetic young teacher, she had just started a new job as the administrator of after-school programs for the Byron Union School District in Discovery Bay. She also was taking night courses to earn her administrative credential. Plus, she had an active social life and close family relationships, with her parents living in Discovery Bay and siblings not too far away.
And then her life turned upside down.
ÒI found a lump in my right breast,Ó she recalls. ÒI had never had a mammogram, since I was so young. My regular physician thought it was probably something benign, but he ordered both a mammogram and an ultrasound, because mammograms donÕt always show things clearly in younger women.Ó
After reviewing the diagnostic screening images, her doctor referred her to William Dugoni, M.D., who is now Medical Director of the WomenÕs Health Program at Washington Township Medical Foundation.
ÒDr. Dugoni performed an excisional biopsy, taking out the lump,Ó Tilton explains. ÒThe pathology report came back positive for breast cancer with a diagnosis of infiltrating ductal carcinoma.Ó
Ductal carcinoma is the most common form of breast cancer. Unlike ductal carcinoma in situ, in which the cancer cells are confined within milk ducts in the breast, infiltrating (or invasive) ductal carcinoma involves cancer cells that have broken through the duct walls and moved into the surrounding tissue.
ÒThe margins around the edges of the biopsied tissue werenÕt Ôclean,Õ so I had to decide between a larger lumpectomy and a mastectomy,Ó Tilton says. ÒI chose the mastectomy because I wanted to be sure the cancer was all gone. Dr. Dugoni performed the mastectomy in May 2001, and since I planned to have reconstructive surgery later on, they inserted Ôtissue expandersÕ to prepare for the subsequent reconstruction.Ó
Following her mastectomy, Tilton started six months of chemotherapy beginning in June. She underwent reconstructive surgery using saline implants in January 2002. Then in February she started seven weeks of radiation therapy, as well as hormone therapy with tamoxifen that she would continue for five years.
ÒIn December 2003, I opted to have a prophylactic mastectomy on my left breast, followed by reconstructive surgery in March the next year,Ó Tilton notes. ÒI simply wanted to make sure the cancer wouldnÕt come back in the other breast. I also later had the saline implants replaced with gel implants.Ó
While many cases of breast cancer in younger women may involve a genetic component, Tilton had no history of breast cancer in any of her first-degree relatives. She also had no other known breast cancer risk factors such as smoking. She decided to use her experience to encourage other women to learn more about breast cancer and take screenings seriously.
ÒWhen I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I did drop out of night school for awhile, returning in 2004 to get my administrative credential,Ó she says. ÒI never stopped working, though, because working with active middle school students provided a welcome distraction. My diagnosis was a wake-up call for many of my female co-workers, and I encouraged them to get checked out. Mammograms arenÕt necessarily needed for women as young as I was, but I am proof that breast self-exams are still valuable.Ó
Now 39 years old and the principal at Jefferson Middle School in Tracy, Tilton also is proof that there can be a good quality of life after breast cancer. Cancer-free for 12 years, she continues to have chest X-rays every three years. She also sees her regular physician, as well as her plastic surgeon, oncologist and Dr. Dugoni every year for thorough exams. She was married to her husband Paul in 2008, and they are the proud parents of two daughters Ð Madeline, age 4, and Claire, age 2.
ÒI met Paul while I was a vice principal at College Park High School in Pleasant Hill and he was an economics and emergency medicine teacher,Ó she says. ÒHe has since gone back into the Army Reserves, where he is a Captain. We werenÕt sure I could get pregnant, but I had no problems getting pregnant. The girls are the joy of our lives. We were very lucky.Ó
Tri-City Voice article re: Think Pink & Jen Tilton