Just Cure It: Pink Ribbon Tree Lighting Ceremony Kicks Off Breast Cancer Awareness Month

On Tuesday, October 2, team members from the Clarke Comprehensive Breast Center and the Cancer Center convened in front of UM Shore Medical Center at Easton to light up the “pink ribbon tree” in front of the hospital to highlight October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Also on hand for the occasion were Ken Kozel, president and CEO, F. Graham Lee, vice president, Philanthropy, and Ruth Ann Jones, CNO and senior vice presdient, Patient Care Services.  Kozel spoke to the outstanding quality of care provided by the Breast Center and the excellent work done by the Cancer Center team members in not only treating cancer but getting out into the community to help women in underserved populations understand importance of yearly mammogram screenings and get the screening done.

Roberta Lilly, MD, medical director, Clarke Comprehensive Breast Center noted that is the second-highest cause of death among women in Maryland, exceeded only by lung cancer, and that as Maryland breast cancer rates are higher than the national average, Mid Shore rates are higher than the State average.

“Early diagnosis and treatment are key to surviving breast cancer,” Dr, Lilly stated. “Last year, our Clarke Comprehensive Breast Center provided breast care to more than 2,171 patients. We diagnosed more than 100 new cases of breast cancer and performed 452 breast biopsies. These numbers represent a 100 percent increase in patients seen in the breast center, a 64 percent increase in biopsies and over 200 percent increase in the number of breast cancers diagnosed.

Dr. Lilly also reviewed the progress made in reducing the disparity in breast cancer survival rates for black women versus white women. “In Talbot County, in 2008, the death rate for black women was 125 percent higher than for whites; now it is 29 percent higher, which is on par with national rates. So we have made progress and we continue to work to reduce that disparity,” she explained.

Graham Lee announced to the group that  UM Memorial Hospital Foundation has designated its year-end appeal to benefit for the Clark Comprehensive Breast Center. The goa for the appeal is $375,000, which will support the purchase of a second 3-D tomosynthesis machine in the Center. Tomosynthesis mammography is increasingly popular due to its greater accuracy, which reduces the number of call-backs for additional testing and biopsies.

Mrs, Anny Williams, a former volunteer, closed the remarks by saying how gratifying it was to see the pink ribbon tree tradition continue. “I think it is great way to heighten awareness,” she said. “If just one person driving by sees the tree and is reminded to to get their mammogram, we might save a life.”