Run or walk for breast cancer awareness on October 2
By Anne Stanton
The mammography technologists whose job it is to position dozens of
breasts each day to search for telltale masses and calcifications have
both sad and inspiring stories to tell.
One remembers a young pregnant woman who was diagnosed with breast
cancer and bravely carried her baby full-term before treatment. She
miraculously survived. Another woman unexpectedly found a cancerous
lump and agreed to a lumpectomy a week before her wedding. She showed
up for the ceremony, her breast bandaged and sore, but a triumphant
smile on her face.
Women are brave, said Mary Kovacs, the mammography coordinator for
the Munson Health Care Smith Family Breast Health Center. Its
incredible how strong women can be.
A run to remember
Each year, area women with breast cancer are honored with a
Remembrance Run sponsored by the Traverse City Track Club. Proceeds go
to the Munson Womens Cancer Fund a fund that helps financially
tapped out patients pay their bills during treatment, such as utility
bills, wigs, mortgages, and childcare.
The 5K run and 5K/1-mile walk will be held on Oct. 2 at the Timber
Ridge RV and Recreation Resort and includes sections of the VASA
trail. Women can stroll through a Breast Health Fair from 8 a.m. - 10
a.m. prior to the race start of 10:15 a.m. Health care professionals
will be on hand to present information on breast cancer, diet, and
The Remembrance Runs health fair tries to bust myths, such as only
large-breasted women get breast cancer. Thats not true. Even men can
get breast cancer, although its rare. Theres a one in eight chance
that a woman will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, with
probability increasing with age, according to American Cancer Society
the breast checker
Betsy Vos, a mammographer technologist, works full time doing
screening and diagnostic breast imaging at the Smith Family Breast
Health Center. Although breast cancer increases as women age, even
women in their 20s, 30s and 40s can develop breast cancer, she said.
The hardest part for women seems to be waiting after an initial
screening mammogram demonstrates a potential problem, but before the
woman is told the final diagnosis, said Vos.
Women react in a range of ways when the physician tells them the
mammograms final result. Some go so far as writing their wills or
picking out songs for their funeral. Others seem to make up their mind
that theyre going to beat the cancer. Vos believes that attitude is
everything. You have to know youll be okay, and I think your body
Vos has been imaging breasts for more than 20 years, and says her job
is easier now that more women accept and even embrace mammograms. She
remembers the early days when many women were angry about the exam.
She recalled an incident when a 94-year-old woman swung up on a piece
of equipment and kicked her with both legs.
The challenge of my job is to reduce a patients anxiety and make the
exam as comfortable for the woman as possible, emotionally and
physically, she said.
Participants in the Remembrance Run are encouraged to bring pledges
from family and friends. Those who registered before Sept. 18 will
receive a free T-shirt with their $25 registration fee. Runners
registering afterward will pay $25 prior to Oct. 2 and $30 on the day
of the event, but T-shirts wont be available. Door prizes will be
given away from 8:15 - 9:45 a.m. There also will be a silent auction
with bidding to close at 11:15 a.m.
Runners and walkers can look forward to a serving of Moomers Homemade
Ice Cream, along with other food from Munson Medical Center. Beverages
will be provided by Old Town Coffee and Buds.
To sign up for the run or walk, go to www.remembrancerun.com.
tips for detecting Breast cancer early
Start getting a mammogram every year at the age of 40. If your mom had
breast cancer, be sure to get your first mammogram eight to 10 years
before the year your moms cancer was detected. Most breast cancers
are detectable by mammogram before they become able to be felt.
As you get older, although your breasts may sag, a lump can pull in
the surrounding soft tissue and create a dimple. So be aware that a
change in your breast might not be normal aging.
If your breast starts to look similar to an orange peel or gets red
and inflamed, see a physician. Cancer may mimic inflammation or
The best place to check your breasts is in the shower, using soap to
make the process easier for detection.
If you find a lump or thickening you should have it checked by your doctor.
Mammograms may be performed on breasts of all sizes, even on men.
Women who have had breast implants to increase breast size should
still have mammograms. However, it takes eight views instead of four
(films with and without the breast implants).
If one breast feels a little different than the other breast, get it
checked out. One of Voss friends thought her breast was normal,
even though one breast felt harder than the other for so long. In
fact, it wasnt normal.
If you dont have the money for a mammogram, call your county health
department, which provides assistance to low-income women for
mammograms. You may also call the Munson Healthcare Smith Family
Breast Health Center. There are several funding options available.