Breast Cancer Awareness Month brings reminders about the importance of examinations

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 5:24 PM CDT
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OTTUMWA, Iowa (KYOU) - October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.

According to Laura Waddell, a Nurse Practitioner at the Women’s Clinic in Ottumwa, 75% of breast cancer is found in women who are 50 years or older. Only a small percentage can happen in younger women.

That is why self-examinations are so important, says Waddell. “If it catches your attention, it should be brought to the attention of your health care provider.” Examining yourself should start at 20 years of age, and mammograms begin at age 40 for women.

Waddell says women should do their own screenings and know their own breast tissues. “Be alert to changes and don’t ignore these changes, if you do see them, come in and get checked.”

Mammograms are performed at Ottumwa Regional Hospital. Alice Brinegar is a mammographer there. She says staff put out a tree in the waiting room for women who are fighting or know someone who was fighting breast cancer. They can place a ribbon on a branch of the tree for hope and remembrance. “To me, it’s a prayer and a promise to our patients that when they put somebody’s name on here even if we can’t read that name, they know who they put on, and they remember that person.”

The tree is a simple gesture with a lasting meaning for patients, according to Brinegar. “They are celebrating their lives if they have survived it, and they are remembering them if they have passed from breast cancer.”

If you or someone you know needs to get an examination, you can make an appointment by calling (641) 684-2461.

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