Tag Archives: breast cancer

‘Dignity Robes’ Project Makes a Difference to Patients During Radiation Treatment

Lori McCoun, left, shows off the smock made for her and other patients undergoing radiation therapy at Peninsula Regional Medical Center thanks to Ellen Smith, right, and the Asbury United Methodist Church's sewing club.

Lori McCoun, left, shows off the smock made for her and other patients undergoing radiation therapy at Peninsula Regional Medical Center thanks to Ellen Smith, right, and the Asbury United Methodist Church’s sewing club.

Hospital gowns are designed for practicality — definitely not modesty or style. Lori McCoun of Salisbury had to wear one to receive radiation therapy to treat her breast cancer at Peninsula Regional Medical Center’s Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute. She says she just joking with the radiation therapy staff when she told them, “This gown is horrendous!”

At the time, she had no idea that that one of the radiation therapists agreed with her 100 percent, and was already working on ways to address it.

“When I was in the radiation therapy program at my school in Pennsylvania, a hospital near Pittsburgh had these smocks,” explained radiation technician Shiloh Litton. They are called Dignity Robes, and they allow patients undergoing radiation therapy a more comfortable, modest and stylish garment to use during their treatment.

The group behind the Dignity Robes was founded in Western Pennsylvania in memory of a woman who had breast cancer. Litton decided she wanted to try to get them in use at Peninsula Regional, and the Pennsylvania group sent her a sample.

“I was trying to get this project off the ground, and when Mrs. McCoun mentioned that she wasn’t a fan of the hospital gowns, I thought — she might be the person who can help me kick it off,” Litton says. She passed the sample smock on to McCoun at her next treatment.

“It was wonderful!” McCoun said. “It has pockets in the front, and Velcro on the side, so you can easily open it to the spot where you are receiving the radiation.” McCoun used it through her course of 33 treatments and found it very useful — and she decided she wanted to share the smocks with other people undergoing the same treatment. There was just one hurdle: “I can barely sew on a button,” McCoun said.

Fortunately, her friend Ellen Smith, a fellow teacher at Asbury United Methodist Church’s Asbury Child Development Center, was a member of the church’s sewing club. “They were very kind and decided they wanted to do something for me,” McCoun said. Litton passed on the smock pattern for the group to use, and they were able to create 25 of them, enough for all of the breast cancer and lung cancer patients receiving treatment at that time.

For the sewing club, it was a one-time project, but both McCoun and Litton are hopeful that someone else will take up the cause. “I still have the pattern and am happy to share it with anyone who would like to make more Dignity Robes,” Litton said.

McCoun, who has experienced the benefits of the smocks firsthand, says she was touched by the effort Asbury’s sewing club made in her honor. “I hope others in the community are willing to help, because it does make a big difference to people when they really need it.” She successfully completed her radiation therapy and continues her teaching work.

To obtain a copy of the pattern for the Dignity Robes, contact Shiloh Litton at PRMC’s Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute at 410-543-7000.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month at PRMC

The Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute lit up pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute lit up pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

October is breast cancer awareness month, and Peninsula Regional Medical Center will be lighting up the Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute pink to remind people about the importance of prevention, screening and care for breast cancer patients in our community.

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death and the second most common type of cancer among women in the U.S. Delmarva is no exception — in 2012, breast cancer patients made up 30 percent of new cancer patients treated at Peninsula Regional Medical Center.

There are some risk factors that you can control to lower your chances of getting breast cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends staying at a healthy weight, being physically active, and limiting how much alcohol you drink.

There are other risk factors that you can’t change, such as age, dense breast tissue, gender, race and ethnicity (breast cancer is more common in white and African-American women). There is another important risk factor when it comes to breast cancer: genetics. Although you can’t change your genes, you can learn more about them to see if you’re at risk.

Women with a strong family history of breast cancer may want to be tested for a mutation in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes that give those who carry it a much higher risk of breast cancer. The Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute offers genetic counseling and testing services provided by the Prevention and Research Center of Mercy Medical Center in cooperation with Peninsula Regional Medical Center. Call 1-866-9-CANCER to make an appointment or learn more. Sign up for the Roots Run on November 9 to help raise funds for this vital service.

Once you are aware of your risk, talk with your doctor about the importance of screening for breast cancer. Regular screening can often find cancer early, when treatments are more likely to be successful. At PRMC, the Breast Center offers routine screening mammograms using Full-Field Digital Mammography technology to detect early cancer. This technology provides more comprehensive visibility to the radiologist. It also allows a much quicker and more efficient exam, and uses less radiation than conventional mammography systems. In addition, the Breast Center offers diagnostic mammograms for further evaluation of current breast problems; breast ultrasound, biopsies, non-surgical procedures and fine needle aspiration. To schedule an appointment with the Breast Center, call 410-543-7599.

Should breast cancer be detected, the Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute has an arsenal of treatments to help patients fight the disease. Surgical treatment, medical and radiation oncology are all offered on site. For patients who may need it, there is a Multidisciplinary Breast Cancer Service and second opinion service at the Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute which brings together a whole team of specialists for a patient in one room: a breast surgeon, radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, and reconstructive surgeon all review the case. The Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute also has a clinical research program and is a member of the Johns Hopkins Clinical Research Network, offering patients access to the latest clinical trials.

The Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute’s patient navigators work closely with patients and their families from the moment a cancer diagnosis is given to the end of the treatment plan, to ensure a smooth path to exceptional care. PRMC also offers breast cancer support groups and services such as lymphedema treatment and a cancer exercise program.

At this time, according to the American Cancer Society, there are more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. In October, when you see the Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute lit up pink, remember to lower your risk, make sure to get screened, and support the many cancer survivors who fight this disease.

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Shorebirds Donate to Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute at PRMC

From left, Shorebirds Assistant General Manager Jimmy Sweet; Thomas DeMarco, MD, Medical Director, Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute; Sherman the Shorebird; Joan Daugherty, RN, MS, Executive Director, Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute; and Tina Collier, Supervisor of the PRMC Breast Center.

From left, Shorebirds Assistant General Manager Jimmy Sweet; Thomas DeMarco, MD, Medical Director, Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute; Sherman the Shorebird; Joan Daugherty, RN, MS, Executive Director, Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute; and Tina Collier, Supervisor of the PRMC Breast Center.

Today the Delmarva Shorebirds delivered a generous donation to the Peninsula Regional Medical Center Foundation to go towards the Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute at PRMC. The proceeds came from the Shorebirds’ Pitch Pink night in May, when players wore pink jerseys to show support for breast cancer survivors and auctioned them off to help raise funds for the Cancer Institute.  Thanks to the Shorebirds and to all those who bid on the jerseys, for your support!

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Peninsula Regional Offers Free Clinical Breast Exams in May

Pamela Fleckenstein, MSN, CRNP-BC, program coordinator for Women's Wellness & Gynecology at PRMC, recently participated in free clinical breast screenings at healthFest. There's another chance for free clinical breast exams in May at PRMC.

Pamela Fleckenstein, MSN, CRNP-BC, program coordinator for Women’s Wellness and Gynecology at PRMC, recently participated in free clinical breast screenings at HealthFest. There’s another chance for free clinical breast exams in May at PRMC.

The Breast Center at Peninsula Regional’s Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute is offering one of the best gifts any woman will receive for Mother’s Day: the opportunity for a free clinical breast exam.
Early detection is the best way to make sure that women with breast cancer have the best possible treatment options and outlook. According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancers found during screening exams are more likely to be smaller and still confined to the breast — important factors in predicting the prognosis of a woman with this disease.

So bring your mother, sister or best friend and join them for a clinical breast exam and education to perform self-breast exams. Speak to clinicians about your questions or concerns and have them answered, woman to woman.

There are two opportunities for the free exams: Thursday, May 9 and Thursday, May 16, from 3-6 p.m. each day. Screenings will be held at the Breast Center at Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute at Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury. To register for a free clinical breast exam, call 410-543-7006.

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Focus on Cancer Rehab

A National Public Radio story on rehabilitation for people who have been through cancer talks about how some organizations help patients deal with the effects of cancer treatments. A doctor who developed breast cancer discusses the toll her treatment took in this insightful look at how cancer treatments can affect people in various, sometimes unexpected ways.

Peninsula Regional Medical Center has established lymphedema treatment services that address the swelling that can occur after cancer surgery or radiation; there is also a Cancer Exercise program to help people regain strength and combat post-treatment fatigue, as well as many other support services. See more here.

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Breast Cancer’s Reach

Acclaimed and beloved author Judy Blume recently shared that she had breast cancer, and she writes about it with her typical openness on Judy’s Blog. It’s full of insights on how she coped with the diagnosis and came to her treatment decisions.  And she reminds others who have been diagnosed with breast cancer:  “When it comes to breast cancer you’re not alone, and scary though it is, there’s a network of amazing women to help you through it.”  Check the blog out – it’s an excellent read.

It’s also a good reminder that women should keep up with their routine healthcare and know their bodies — Blume has a very healthy lifestyle, no family history of breast cancer and had regular mammograms, but because of her dense breast tissue, it wasn’t spotted until a radiologist suggested an ultrasound.

If her story moves you to have yourself checked out, multiple diagnostic techniques are offered at Peninsula Regional’s Breast Center. And here’s a PDF primer on how to do a self-breast exam. If you have been diagnosed, don’t forget that Peninsula Regional is now offering support services to people with cancer.

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