• Grace Carringer chats with Lorraine Kilpatrick during Ladies’ Night Out on Thursday. Photo by SAMANTHA SINCLAIR

SCOUTING AROUND: Early detection key to breast cancer survival

   Since turning age 40, Grace Carringer of Murphy has never missed getting her yearly mammogram. When she was 60, a mammogram captured an image of the cancer growing inside her.
   “It saved my life,” she said Thursday.
   Carringer was diagnosed with Stage IIA breast cancer and lymph node involvement.
   “It was already invasive,” she said. “If I had waited, it could have been to the point that I couldn’t be cured.”
   Today, Carringer is a 15-year survivor.
   Dr. Kevin Cormier, a radiologist with Tennessee Interventional & Imaging Associates at Murphy Medical Center in Peachtree, presented the importance of early detection, getting a yearly mammogram and the mammogram process to the room full women at Murphy Medical Center’s monthly Ladies’ Night Out event.
   “If you are over 40, I hope I’ve seen your breasts in imaging form or somebody else has,” he said.
   Cormier said breast cancer is the most common and second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women. However, death rates dropped by 39 percent from 1989 to 2015, likely because women are finding cancer earlier through mammogram screenings, greater awareness and better treatments.
   While there are factors that may put some women at a higher risk for breast cancer, he said there is no way to prevent it.
   “It’s one of those things, if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen,” Cormier said. “So, the best thing is to find it early.”
   He said women should do monthly exams to get to know how their breasts feel.
   “You’ll be more sensitive to something than your physician,” Cormier said.
   Yearly mammograms are still important because sometimes the cancer is “invisible” to exams. The mammogram involves “painfully smashing the breast between two plates,” he said, because the smaller they make the breast, the better the picture.
   “I can’t do anything about that. I apologize,” Cormier said.
   He added that by law he must finalize the report within 30 days, but he tries to finalize the report within a week for his patients.
   For women who have no insurance or insurance that does not cover mammograms, help is available. The Cherokee County Health Department provides assistance for no-cost or low-cost breast and cervical cancer screenings, said Rebecca Hand, the department’s breast and cervical cancer control program navigator. The health department also can help women sign up for breast and cervical cancer benefits via Medicaid.
   Dona Adams is a big advocate of going to the doctor right away when you feel something. She felt a lump in spring 2009 but ignored it. By the time she got it checked out in November, she had Stage III breast cancer that had run into her lymph nodes.
   She said she’s extremely lucky to be a seven-year survivor.
   “I preach it to people,” Adams said. “If you feel anything, please get it checked.”
   Ladies’ Night Out is held the first Tuesday of every month at McGuire’s Millrace Farm in Peachtree. Next month, Good Shepherd Home Health & Hospice Agency nurse Kathi Van Hall will be the guest speaker. The event was sponsored by First Citizens Bank, area McDonald’s restaurants, McGuire’s Millrace Farm, King’s Pharmacy, Peachtree Internal Medicine Clinic, Steven Aft State Farm and Tennessee Interventional & Imaging Associates.

Marble BP shows first responders appreciation
   First responders gathered at the Marble BP station Friday for something good. The service station held a First Responders Appreciation Day, giving out free breakfast and lunch to anyone who showed their first responder identification or badge.
   The event was organized by the station’s manager, Misty Crumley, along with employees Kailyn Leitner and Jessica Floyd.
   “The local first responders always answer us in our time of need here at Marble BP, so we wanted to thank them for all that they do
not only for us but for our entire community,” Leitner said.
   Starting early Friday morning, the station gave free coffee to first responders and allowed them to take a pastry or doughnut on the way out. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the station had available in a ready-to-go package a grilled hot dog, chips, cole slaw, chocolate chip cookie and a drink. Marble BP served 60 lunches to first responders during the two-hour period.
   The Marble BP plans to make the appreciation day an annual event.
   Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, scoutingaround@cherokeescout.com; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message in the office at 837-5122.