‘Protect Your Pumpkins’ | Sampson Independent

‘Protect Your Pumpkins’ | Sampson Independent

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and to bring awareness to the community, Sampson Regional Medical Center launched its “Protect Your Pumpkins” campaign on Oct. 1.

They kicked off the campaign with a pumpkin decorating contest completed by staff members.

“With limited guidelines, several departments used their creativity to create more than 20 beautiful breast-cancer themed pumpkins,” Marketing & Community Relations Coordinator Allison Strickland stated. “Staff pumpkins are adorned with inspirational messages, ribbons, glitter, lights, clothes, and much more. The pumpkins are displayed on the hospital front lawn beside a beautiful eight-foot pink ribbon cutout. The Pink Ribbon Pumpkin Patch is a beautiful reminder for passersby to remember those who’ve lost their fight with Breast Cancer and to honor those who continue fighting.”

SRMC began the “Protect Your Pumpkins” reminder that is popping up throughout Sampson County this month, encouraging women to schedule their annual 3D Screening Mammogram.

“Mirror clings have been provided for all women’s restrooms in both city any county school systems,” Strickland provided. “Coffee sleeves have been provided for every hot or cold coffee drink purchased at SimplyNC, Alfredo’s, and Dunkin’ Donuts through October (or as supplies last). Coffee lovers are also encouraged to snap a picture of their purchase made at one of these participating locations for social sharing @SampsonRMC and #protectyourpumpkinsSRMC.”

According to Strickland, statistics tell that one in eight women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. Physicians recommend that women 40 and older have a screening mammogram every one to two years. Women younger than 40 are encouraged to speak with their physician if they have a family history of breast cancer.

“SampsonRMC offers the latest technology with 3D mammography at its Outpatient Diagnostics Center on Beaman Street,” Strickland commented. “A 3D mammogram detects 40% more cancers than a 2D mammogram. Early detection for breast cancer can be the difference between life and death. SampsonRMC’s caring and gentle staff are eager to assist women during their screening mammogram.”

Strickland stated that as part of its mission to bring awareness to Breast Cancer, SRMC believes it imperative that women realize the importance of scheduling an annual 3D screening mammogram. During October, the hospital is partnering with MD Save to make mammograms more affordable for those who are uninsured. Patients can visit www.mdsave.com and search Sampson Regional Medical Center to purchase a 3D screening mammogram voucher for only $149.00. The voucher has no expiration, so it may be purchased in October and used when due for the annual screening. Women covered through an insurance plan should know that the cost of their annual screening mammogram is most often covered as part of their preventive care.

“Due to COVID-19, our traditional acknowledgments for breast cancer awareness month have changed,” Amber Cava, vice president of Strategy and Business Development for SRMC, stated.

According to Cava, this year’s campaign will focus on shining light on breast cancer awareness in October.

Last year, Sampson Regional upgraded its mammography equipment just in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Sampson Regional does a few things to raise awareness in October, including lighting their building in pink in the evenings.

For additional information, patients can contact the Outpatient Diagnostics Center at 910-592-2689.

Kristy Bland, Business Development liaison for Sampson Regional explained that mammograms make it possible to detect breast cancer early. A mammogram can reveal breast cancer before symptoms or lumps are felt.

“It’s a preventative measure covered by most insurance,” Bland explained.

According to Shawanda Forbes, mammo technician, women should typically get their first mammogram at the age of 40. However, if their family has history of breast cancer, then they should come in at least 10 years prior to when their family member was first diagnosed.

The ASPIRE Cristalle is able to turn in four directions giving a more comfortable exam than the traditional mammogram. The machine moves as the patient stands still. The X-ray system moves over the breast and takes low-dose images from different angles. The doctor is then able to see the breast tissue layer by layer. Abnormalities that may be hidden by 2D mammography can be revealed through this method.

“The feedback has been positive. We are very pleased with the machine,” Bland stated last year. “We’re very excited to be able to offer this to the community. It creates an ease of mind before symptoms occur.”

Sampson Regional has provided the following tips on how to prepare for a mammogram:

• Do not wear jewelry, deodorant, perfume, or lotion on your underarms or torso. Deodorants and powders sometimes contain aluminum, which images similarly to calcification and can interfere with the imaging process.

• Patients will have to undress from the waist up, so wear a shirt with pants, and avoid wearing a one-piece dress.

• Schedule a mammogram after a menstrual period (instead of before or during) to minimize tenderness and discomfort.

• Limit intake of caffeinated drinks during the week before. Caffeine can make breasts more tender, which can lead to more discomfort during the exam.

The mammogram takes less than 10 minutes.

On average, there can be 23 to 25 appointments a day or more during the extended hours.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, SRMC held a breakfast for the support group at The Gristmill restaurant last year. It is a gathering that is held once a year. Coffee mugs were given to the participants who showed up and it was a rather large group. At least 20 people attended the gathering, forcing the staff to add an extra table or two.

During breakfast, the members talked about what steps they needed to take to remain healthy. They also talked about their stories with breast cancer.

“We’re here to celebrate the love and the friendship,” Robin Palmer stated. Palmer is the liaison for the group. She took over after Wanda Boyette’s passing. The group has welcomed her as part of their family. Palmer has not personally struggled with cancer, but that hasn’t impacted her relationship with the group.

The group was established 20 years ago by Boyette, who was an administrator at the hospital. She had breast cancer, and now the group honors her memory.

Palmer stated that the group does not have anything scheduled at this time. The breakfast has been canceled for this year by SRMC.

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