By David Volz / October, 2011
In light of the fact that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it is reassuring to know the strides being made against the disease by people in our community. When Lisa Boccard was diagnosed with breast cancer twenty years ago, she knew a long, hard fight was ahead of her. It has been a hard fight, but one that she has survived well. And while she continues the struggle, Boccard, the sister of Coral Springs city commissioner Vince Boccard, has found a way to help other women.
Lisa Boccard and sister-in-law Terry Boccard created the Lisa Boccard Breast Cancer Fund in 2003 to raise money so that women who don't have health insurance or financial resources can receive a free mammogram. The organization has raised money through the sale of "Recipes for Life" cookbooks and a 5K run at the Coral Springs Medical Center, with which the organization has been affiliated since 2008. The cookbooks have raised more than $30,000. One hundred per cent of the money raised by the fund has gone toward free mammograms given at the medical center.
There will be more events this fall to raise money. More than 600 women have been screened and several dozen were diagnosed with breast cancer. They received care early and all have survived.
Boccard knows very well the struggles faced by those with breast cancer. "I had cancer for the first time in 1991 when I was twenty-nine," she said. "I received treatment for my cancer. The cancer came back in 2003. I am now being treated for metastatic breast cancer. I will live with it for the rest of my life."
According to Dr. Elizabeth Tan-Chiu, board certified in internal medicine and medical oncology, of Florida Cancer Care in Plantation, one in eight women are at risk for developing breast cancer. Roughly 78 per cent of women who develop breast cancer are over age fifty. Family history and genetic make-up are other factors that increase a woman's risk for breast cancer.
Stages for breast cancer range from zero to four. In stages zero to two, the tumors are generally smaller and have not spread beyond the breast or lymph nodes. In stages three and four, the tumors have spread through the breast and the cancer is often in other parts of the body. Early detection of breast cancer and treatment is important. The odds of a woman surviving breast cancer with treatment have improved in the U.S. since 1990, according to Tan-Chiu, whose career is focused on the prevention, early detection and treatment of breast and ovarian cancer. The reasons for this include education about the value of mammograms, more effective treatment and cancer research.
Coral Springs Medical Center is part of Broward Health. This hospital organization has developed a program known as the breast navigation program, designed to help women receive proper care for breast cancer. If a mammogram for an individual comes back with an abnormal finding, the patient is referred to a breast cancer navigator who performs a detailed intake to assess the patient's needs.
The patient is placed into the navigation program through the completion of care. If the patient's work-up is negative for cancer, the patient is put back on schedule for follow-up, as recommended by the physician. The patient receives information and education on breast cancer. If there are any changes or concerns, she is told to contact the hospital. Once a patient is diagnosed with breast cancer, she is followed by the breast navigator from diagnosis through treatment and for five years after the completion of treatment.
The type of treatment a woman will receive depends on many variables, such as age, the type of cancer, the size and the extent of the cancer, and family and personal history, according to Colleen Gaeta, a nurse at the Women's Center in Coral Springs. Once a diagnosis of breast cancer has been obtained, the woman will be referred to a surgeon and an oncologist to determine the best course of care. Some women receive a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. Chemotherapy or radiation treatment may not be needed.
"The earlier the treatment, the greater the success rate," said Gaeta. "When women hear they have a lump, they become frightened, until they get the results of a biopsy. But only about 15 to 18 per cent of biopsies are positive. Every woman should be screened because early detection is the key to a cure. Women should do breast self-examinations and receive yearly check-ups from their primary care physicians or gynecologists."
To see if you qualify for a free mammogram at Coral Springs Medical Center, telephone 954-346-5362 or 954-346-4242.
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