It Was Just Another Day

By Dalena Terwilleger

I’m writing this in hopes of helping others. You tell yourself, “this will never happen to me”, but it can, and it will. 

Three things could have changed our lives on April 19th, 2020. Testing Strips, Narcan, and the knowledge of The Good Samaritan Law. It’s interesting, because in the few days leading up to Emma’s overdose, in passing conversation, we had talked about “Fentanyl”, and how it was killing people. 

Emma had been clean and sober, and doing her best to get out of the situation and house she was living in. We had plans. She was going to move in with me on Monday. 

Saturday April 19th, 2020 was the last time I saw my baby girl Emma Elizabeth Christensen. She was just 21 years old, born December 3rd, 1998.

 

 

Sunday April 19th, 2020, my alarm went off at 3:15am, I had to be to work at 4:30am. I hit snooze. At 3:30 am, I got up, and got ready. It was just another day. I was extremely busy and stressed at work that day. My feet hurt, I was staying late again, I was tired and had deadlines to meet. 

At approximately 12:30pm, there was a phone call for me on the work line. “that’s odd”, I thought. My employee’s face had me concerned. What now? I took the call. My life would never be the same. 

In my mind, I see her beautiful green eyes. I need to touch her, smell her, hear her. I see the little freckle on her back left side, just above her hip. So tiny. I have never not known it was there. I see her beautiful smile, the one dimple. The oddly shaped brown freckle in her green right eye. I see her scar above her right eye, the birthmark just above her left knee. It never would wash off. I see her stretch marked belly from bringing life into this world. I see beauty, pain, and sacrifice in them. I see my baby girl. 

Had I known that day, I could have sent her out with Test Strips, Narcan, and the knowledge of the Good Samaritan Law, along with the “wear your seatbelt, make good choices, and I love you” that were always said anytime she walked out the door. 

#EndOverdose

 

Join us to remember those who have died and acknowledge the grief of family and friends left behind on #InternationalOverdoseDay.

August 31st, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Moab Valley Multicultural Center, 156 N 100 W
Dinner will be provided

“45 is the New 50” for Colorectal Cancer Screening

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, with almost 52,000 deaths in 2019.  In general, however, it is a slow growing cancer that is treatable if caught early enough, and in fact it can actually be prevented. That’s where screening comes in. In the past, screening was advised starting at age 50, but prompted by an alarming increase in colorectal cancers in younger patients, an independent expert panel has recommended that individuals at average risk for the disease start the screening process at age 45. This change in guidelines advocated by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) now aligns with that of the American Cancer Society, which made the recommendation for a lower screening age of 45 in 2018. The task force recommendation means that insurers will be required to cover preventative procedures such as stool tests and colonoscopies that can detect colorectal cancer at an early stage. 

In 2020 11% of colon cancers and 15% of rectal cancers occurred in patients younger than 50 years, compared to 5% and 9%, respectively, in 2010. Colorectal cancer is even being seen in increased frequency in patients in their 20s and 30s and by 2030 is expected to be the leading cause of death from malignancy for people in their twenties through forties. 

The reasons for this increase are unclear though there are several known risks factors:  environmental toxins, poor diet, sedentary lifestyles, and obesity.  

In addition, another major study has found that continuing colorectal cancer screening past the age of 75 is felt to be beneficial for some people, whereas previously it was generally advised to stop screening in these patients. 

Colonoscopy is considered to be the “Gold Standard” of colorectal cancer screening. This is because the test physically looks at the lining of the intestine, and also because pre-cancerous polyps can be removed before they ever get the chance to turn into malignant growths. There aren’t many cancers where we can intervene in such a way. Another benefit is that with a normal exam, the next one will not be necessary for ten years, depending on one’s personal and family history. 

Are you afraid to get a colonoscopy?  If so, you are not alone.  Many people think the exam will be painful or embarrassing. In fact, in spite of the preventative benefits of colorectal cancer screening, only around 70% of eligible individuals in the United States undergo screening. But colonoscopy is not something to be feared.  It is quick and painless, you will be covered up during the procedure, and you can be back to normal life the following day. 

In addition, there are other methods of screening available, including stool tests which need to be done every one to three years.  These are all effective screening methods and some are quite inexpensive. If you are unsure which test is best for you, discuss it with your healthcare provider. 

Our current guidelines for screening are:

Average risk, start at age 45

People in good health with a life expectancy more than 10 years should continue regular screening through the age of 75

For people ages 76 through 85, the decision to be screened should be based on a person’s preferences, overall life expectancy, overall health, and prior screening history. 

People at higher risk may need earlier and more frequent screening. This includes people with a personal or a strong family history of colorectal cancer or certain kinds of polyps; a history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease); hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes; or a history of radiation to the abdomen or pelvis. 

With all of the alternatives available, there is no reason not to get screened for colorectal cancer.  No test is perfect, but there is a test that is right for you. So whatever one you choose, just get screened. It is one of the best decisions you can make for your future health. 

Healthcare Planning and End-Of-Life Wishes

As you get older, it is important that you talk to your loved ones about healthcare planning and end-of-life wishes. Though you may want to just enjoy any time that you get to spend together, the truth is that you need to discuss certain things that may be uncomfortable to talk about. You don’t want to wait until it is too late to talk about these things.

So, what are they? Here are some important conversations that you need to have (and soon).

Your healthcare and end-of-life wishes 

It is very important that you take the time to talk to your loved ones about your healthcare and end-of-life wishes. If you are having any health concerns, bring them up with your loved ones. Let them know what medications you are taking for these conditions and what else you need to do about it.

This is also the time to talk about your end-of-life wishes if you become really ill. Do you want the hospital staff to do everything that they can to keep you alive? Do you want to be put on a respirator? Do you want them to do emergency surgery, even if it looks like the outcome isn’t good? Let them know what you want to be done and what you want to avoid.

At this point, you may also want to fill out an Advance Directive that will appoint a healthcare advocate for you, in case you become no longer able to advocate for yourself.

Your lifestyle 

If you are struggling at home and need some more help, they need to know. Otherwise, they won’t be able to help you. You may avoid talking about this because you don’t want them to feel like they have to pitch in more. However, if you are struggling to live at home, you may be able to get help. You can talk to a caregiver agency to figure out how they can make your life a little easier. You may even decide that you would rather move into an assisted living facility to get the care that you need.

Finances

Though it can be hard to talk about finances, it is important to bring it up. Talk to them about how much you have saved for retirement. You may want to let them know how you expect to pay for your medical expenses if they grow. Also, if you end up in an assisted living facility, they need to know how to pay for it.

Estate planning 

Most adults have a will and some sort of plan in place for when they are gone. It is important that you show your loved ones where your important paperwork is and where they can find your will. Let them know what you want done with your body when you are gone. Do you already have a burial plot, or are you going to be cremated? Do you have an idea of any services that you may like to have? The more information that you can give your loved ones, the less they will have to worry about when you are gone.

Though it can be hard to talk to your loved ones, you need to do it before it is too late. Keep them informed of any health concerns that you may have. Let them know what you want to be done medically if you find yourself unable to speak up. Talk to them about needing some extra help or if you want to move into an assisted living facility. Also, talk to them about your finances and how you are prepared to deal with whatever the future throws your way.

Moab Regional Hospital will host an informative presentation on the importance of healthcare planning and how to begin important conversations about healthcare planning and end-of-life wishes with loved ones. Please join Dr. Kathy Williams, Family Medicine physician at Moab Regional Hospital, Christina Sloan, founding member of the Sloan Law Firm, and Kristine Curtis, Registered Nurse with Grand County Hospice, on Tuesday, July 13th at 6 pm via Facebook Live. On Thursday, July 15th at 6 pm, Moab Regional Hospital will host an in-person workshop to answer questions about the Utah Advance Directive form that can be found at www.ucoa.utah.edu/directives. Questions? Please call 435-719-3683 or go to www.mrhmoab.org/events.

Raising Awareness of Fentanyl

Written by Dr. Lauren Prest
Medical Director of Mental Health & Recovery Services at Moab Regional Hospital

Substance use is a part of our lives as human beings. Drugs and alcohol are used in ceremonies, religion and family gatherings. They can be used for medical purposes or purely for their intoxicating effects. Some people are exposed through prescriptions, others through casual experimentation and some in more traumatic ways. Substance use can be complicated for us as human beings, perhaps most often when we know and love someone who uses substances in unhealthy ways.

Demonizing a substance can bring problems, too. After all, some people need pain pills to function due to chronic pain conditions or cancer-related pain. However, we should learn about the risks and how to reduce the harms of any substance exposure. Even substances that caused some previously positive experiences can become twisted or dangerous.

The risks of fentanyl, a new drug trend, are worth discussing. Deaths involving synthetic, or man-made, opioids have been increasing over the last decade in the United States. In southeastern Utah, this trend has been especially devastating. The most common cause of an overdose is fentanyl.

Fentanyl is an opioid 50-100 times more potent than morphine, meaning overdoses can happen quickly and can be harder to treat. People often don’t know they are using it or they are unfamiliar with how powerful this pain killer can be. Illicit fentanyl can be pressed into pills that could be mistaken for other medications like Adderall or Percocet. Some drug dealers mix fentanyl into methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, MDMA or other substances without telling their customers.

In Moab, new cases of fentanyl use have been seen in youth as young as 14 or 15. Even a small amount of fentanyl, the size of the tip of a pen, can cause an overdose in someone who isn’t tolerant to this drug.

Opioids like pain pills and heroin have been in the Moab community for a long time, but Moab has not suffered as many opioid-related overdoses as our neighbors to the north and south. But with fentanyl moving into our community, Moab is at risk of seeing more fentanyl-related overdoses and deaths. We should try and be prepared.

Talking with your medical prescriber is a good place to start learning the risks. If you are taking drugs illicitly, learning to start with low doses and how to test drugs for fentanyl might save your life. Even if you have been taking legitimate pain pills from your doctor for many years, it is important to know what an overdose looks like.

Know the signs: fentanyl and other pain pills as well as heroin can cause drowsiness, nausea, confusion, slowed breathing, unconsciousness and cardiac arrest from lack of oxygen. Lips can turn blue or gray and skin can be cold or clammy. Breathing can slow to the point you may hear gurgling or groaning rather than regular breaths. Ultimately, breathing may stop completely.

Naloxone, sold as Narcan, is a medication that is wise to have on hand if you use opioids or if you know someone who does. Narcan is sold by pharmacies or can be prescribed by your doctor to have in case of opioid overdose. Fentanyl is so powerful, it may require higher doses of Narcan than other opioids. Getting emergency medical help is still necessary after an overdose to ensure you do not succumb to the overdose after the Narcan has worn off. For more information about Narcan including how to get it, how to use it and additional resources I recommend visiting the website www.utahnaloxone.org.

On May 4 at 6 p.m., Moab Regional Hospital will be streaming a LIVE presentation on their Facebook page featuring Special Agent Jay Tinkler, DEA and Debbie Marvidikis, SEUHD. They will discuss the risk of fentanyl in our community and surrounding areas. In-person educational workshops on fentanyl testing and naloxone (brand name Narcan) as treatment for opioid overdose will be held on May 6 at 3 p.m., 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. at Moab Regional Hospital. For more information or to register for a workshop, please call 435-719-3771.

Fentanyl addiction, like all substance use disorders, is treatable. Just like diabetes or high blood pressure, addiction can take hold of some people given the right mix of biology, stressors and lifestyle choices. Please know we are here to connect you or your loved ones to treatment or give you information on any opioids you’re prescribed.

Be safe, Moab.

Online Resources:
https://www.commonwealthfund.org/blog/2021/spike-drug-overdose-deaths-during-covid-19-pandemic-and-policy-options-move-forward

https://www.aha.org/news/headline/2020-07-16-cdc-drug-overdose-deaths-46-2019#:~:text=Drug%20overdose%20deaths%20in%20the,by%20drug%20category%20and%20state.

http://www.utahnaloxone.org/

https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/opioids/opioid-summaries-by-state/utah-opioid-involved-deaths-related-harms

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7006a4.htm?s_cid=mm7006a4_w

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/fentanyl

Desiree’s View – Choosing Love over Fear

01.21.21

The View – Moab Sun News

Desiree Westfall, PA-C, MPH

Guest Columnist

When I was pregnant with my son, my mother began sending me books on vaccine safety—or rather her belief in the lack thereof and the importance of not following the Centers for Disease Control’s regular vaccine schedule.

I’ll be honest, her feelings freaked me out even though I’m a physician assistant with a master’s degree in public health. When I analyzed the resources my mother had shared with me, it was clear that the claims were based on anecdotes and poor data. None of the sources had evidence to support their claims of serious consequences.

Unfortunately, it shook the emotional side of my brain up. I skipped or delayed some recommended vaccines for my newborn son. At 6-months-old, my son developed breath-holding spells that provoked mild convulsions. He had a few full-blown seizures and information from my mother began pouring in. She blamed the vaccines we’d given my son for his condition.

My heart was tortured by the idea I had perhaps done something to harm my child. I had a consultation with a pediatric neurologist at the University of Utah after my son’s first seizure. Near tears, I asked her if this could at all be related to something I had done. The surprise and then pity on her face was clear. She assured me that evidence shows that vaccines are safe and have no connection to my son’s breath holding spells. I had done the research, I asked experts, and I had an excellent education to make an informed choice about vaccine safety.

My son was about one year old when I discovered a book called “On Immunity: An Inoculation,” written by Eula Biss. The book discusses the history of childhood vaccination and where a small group of individuals showed fear surrounding this practice The author creates an eloquent argument about how choosing to vaccinate ourselves and our children is a public service and ultimately, an act of love. This sentiment resonated deeply with me after my experience.

Over the past years, that idea of choosing love over fear has really motivated me to do what I know is right. Getting my second child vaccinated on schedule was much easier to do without all the fear. I now have discussions with my children about how the protection they create is not just for themselves, but for the childhood cancer survivor in early remission, or for elders with waning immune systems, or for the immuno-compromised individuals who are unable to receive vaccines.

Biss speaks to the simple truth: “We are each other’s environment. Immunity is a shared space — a garden we tend together.”

In my research about the COVID-19 vaccine, I saw no shortcuts taken with safety research during the development of this vaccine. Health researchers have known for decades that a novel virus would cause a pandemic at some point and so have spent many decades studying the spike protein on coronaviruses, which is the target methodology of both the Moderna and the Pfizer vaccines.

It’s true the coronavirus vaccine was developed in record time, but not at the expense of rushing clinical trials. The speedy development was due to a concerted effort of our government and private industry working with public health researchers. The safety steps with clinical trials were not skipped. Rather, the steps that tend to happen in a serial fashion happened at the same time to expedite the process. It wasn’t safety that was sacrificed, it was the red tape of bureaucracy that was cut. This is the fast-tracked life work of many dedicated scientists put into large scale production.

It’s indisputable that vaccinations are one of the most well-studied medications offered today. There are some mostly mild adverse reactions and the benefits of these medications far outweigh the possible risks.

I received my first COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 29. My arm hurt for a day, and then I was back to being myself.

With each passing day, I have a growing gratitude for each individual that worked so diligently to bring this vaccine to reality. As isolated as we’ve been over the past year, there is no way around the truth that we are in this together. We are connected—and in order to get through these difficult times, we each have to be bigger than our fear. While I suspect I will always pause for a moment before I get a vaccine, I do my part for our community and choose love over fear.

The Benefits of Vaccinations

Written by Dr. Bartczak

Facing challenges repeatedly, you grow stronger and eventually overcome them. If you know your enemy and train for battle, you are on the path to success. We see this in sports, we’ve heard in schools and houses of worship, and we encounter it at the doctor’s office. It’s the concept behind “practice makes perfect,” and we inherently know it to be true. Immunization is based on this principle as well. A strengthened immune system is able to overcome the germs that could otherwise cause severe disease.

A vaccine is made from a small part of a virus or bacteria or a weakened version of it, treated in special ways so that it cannot cause illness, mixed with stabilizers, and given as shot into the muscle. For example, the Haemophilus influenzae b vaccine uses components from the outside capsule of the Haemophilus influenzae bacteria. The body learns to recognize this component as foreign, and then to fight against it. The body produces specialized cells that act as scouts, and when the Haemophilus bacteria is encountered after vaccination, the body quickly recognizes and fights it off without getting sick. Left unchecked, Haemophilus can infect the brain, lungs, epiglottis, blood, ears, joints, and heart. About 5% of children who get this infection will die; 15% of survivors may have lasting effects like cerebral palsy, seizures, blindness, and deafness.

Because vaccines stimulate the immune system, they may be followed by fever, swelling, rash, or pain where the shot was given. This means the vaccine is working as designed. Serious side effects are very rare and are monitored by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vaccines do contain stabilizers and preservatives such as citric acid, aluminum, and formaldehyde. We ingest these chemicals on a daily basis in food, water, and medications in quantities much larger than what is in a vaccine. The amount of formaldehyde present in any vaccine is fifty times smaller than that found in a pear.

The beauty of vaccines is that the first encounter with a germ is in a controlled environment, where that foreign protein or weakened germ cannot cause disease. If someone encounters the germ without a vaccine, the number of organisms is significantly higher, and they are fully functional, therefore capable of causing disease and spreading to other people. In areas with high vaccination rates and no travel, the risk of getting an infection may be low, although the risk of serious illness from that infection remains high. However, in an area that sees a million tourists a year, the chances of catching a disease jumps exponentially. The risk of serious illness, lasting consequences, or death, are simply not worth the exceedingly low risk of serious effect from vaccines.

The biggest successes in improving length and quality of life over the last century have come from public health measures, particularly vaccines. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That is why I will happily get vaccinated, and encourage all of you to do the same.

Post-Breast Cancer, What You Should Know as a Survivor

The period following breast cancer treatment can be a time of excitement or relief, but also a time of worry and concern. You may have questions regarding follow-up, the likelihood of recurrence, and prevention, we are answering a few of these common questions here:

What does follow-up care look like?

Depending on your specific situation and your provider’s recommendations, follow-up care will likely be scheduled every few months following treatment. The longer you have been cancer-free, the less often the appointments are needed. After 5 years, they are typically done about once a year.

If you had a breast-conserving surgery, a mammogram will be scheduled about 6-12 months after surgery and radiation are completed, and then at least every year after that.

If you are on hormone treatments, you may need additional follow up as these can have side effects on osteoporosis or an increased risk of uterine cancer. Be sure to discuss these with your doctor.

Can I lower my risk of breast cancer coming back?

Breast cancer is one of the best-studied types of cancer and research has shown there are some things you can do that might be helpful to decrease your risk of recurrence. Controlling your weight, staying physically active, eating right, and lowering your levels of stress may help you lower your risk of breast cancer returning, as well as help protect you from other health problems.

Pregnancy after breast cancer

If you are a younger woman who has had breast cancer, you might have questions about how breast cancer could affect your ability to have children and whether there are any extra risks. Some treatments for breast cancer might affect a woman’s fertility. For example, chemotherapy for breast cancer might damage the ovaries, which can sometimes cause immediate or delayed infertility. Still, many women are able to become pregnant after treatment. The best time to talk with your doctor about fertility is before starting breast cancer treatment.

Women who have had breast cancer can experience recurrence and are at a higher risk for certain other cancers. Because of this, it is important to stay vigilant about prevention and follow up appointments. Staying up to date on mammograms and other recommended cancer screenings can help detect cancer early if it returns.

To schedule your annual mammogram at Moab Regional Hospital, give us a call at 435-719-3794.

Breast Cancer Care Available at Moab Regional Hospital

We all know someone who has been impacted with cancer, and with about 1 in 8 women developing invasive breast cancer in the US, it’s important to understand the resources available to you. In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re sharing the breast cancer care resources that are available to our community, right here at Moab Regional Hospital. From our 3D mammography preventative services to our experienced staff members and our chemotherapy infusion services, you can trust that you’re receiving the best care there is.

3D Mammography vs. 2D Mammography

A number of studies have found that 3D mammograms find more cancers than traditional 2D mammograms and also reduce the number of false positives. With 3D mammography, the radiologist reviews about 200-300 images, compared to only four derived from a 2D mammogram. At Moab Regional Hospital, we are proud to offer 3D mammography to the women in our community. Prevention and early detection is key in the successful treatment of breast cancer.

Meet Our Oncology Team

Alicia Swink, MD

Dr. Alicia Swink has extensive training in diagnosing and treating a wide array of cancers and blood disorders. Her clinical abilities include the diagnosis and treatment of all types of cancers, including solid tumor malignancies, malignant hematologic conditions, and benign blood disorders. Dr. Swink is a visiting specialist at Moab Regional Hospital and we love having her as a part of our oncology team.

Anna Page Kanopsic, NP

Anna specializes in breast cancer care, as well as inherited genetic cancer risk, enhanced cancer screening, prevention, and treatment. Anna is a visiting specialist at Moab Regional Hospital, is Board Certified, and is a valuable part of our oncology team.

Gayle Audenried, Outpatient Nursing Services Director

Gayle is a registered nurse and has over 25 years of nursing experience with 15 years in Oncology Nursing Care. The nurses at Moab Regional Hospital who provide outpatient nursing services are specially trained in chemotherapy and biotherapy administration. The nursing team, in coordination with the onsite pharmacist, can provide the necessary treatments and support services needed for those receiving cancer treatment.

Reconstructive Surgery

If you’re receiving a mastectomy or a lumpectomy, you may decide that breast reconstructive surgery is a good fit for you. Dr. Chick is a visiting plastic surgeon and specializes in breast reconstructive surgeries. He is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgery. Dr. Chick has numerous years of experience and is happy to see you for a consult to determine if reconstructive surgery is something you’d like to move forward with.

If you’re facing breast cancer, it’s important to understand the resources available to you. Our visiting specialists and in-house staff make superior cancer care available, right here in your community.

Understanding a Breast Cancer Diagnosis

There are several types of breast cancer, and they are broken into two main categories: invasive and noninvasive, otherwise known as “in situ”. While invasive cancer has spread from the breast ducts or glands to other parts of the breast, noninvasive cancer has not spread from the original tissues.

Some of the most common types of breast cancer include:

– Ductal carcinoma in situ. This is a noninvasive condition. The cancer cells are confined to the ducts in your breast and haven’t invaded the surrounding breast tissue.
– Lobular carcinoma in situ. This cancer grows in the milk-producing glands of your breast. Like ductal carcinoma in situ, the cancer cells haven’t invaded the surrounding tissue.
– Invasive ductal carcinoma. This is the most common type of breast cancer. It begins in your breast’s milk ducts and then invades nearby tissue in the breast. Once the breast cancer has spread to the tissue outside your milk ducts, it can begin to spread to other nearby organs and tissue.
– Invasive lobular carcinoma. This cancer first develops in your breast’s lobules and invades the nearby tissues.

Potential Stages
Once an individual is diagnosed with breast cancer, the next step is to determine if the cancer has spread and if so, how far. This process is called staging. The stage of cancer describes how much cancer is in the body. It helps determine how serious the cancer is and how best to treat it. Cancers range from stage 0 (carcinoma in situ, noninvasive) through stage IV. As a rule, the lower the number, the less the cancer has spread. Within each stage, an earlier letter means a lower stage.

When determining the stages, these key pieces of information are used:
The extent/size of the tumor
The spread to nearby lymph nodes
The spread to distant sites
The presence of certain proteins
Grade of the cancer

Outlook
Survival rates are estimates and are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had a specific kind of cancer, but they cannot predict what will happen in any particular person’s case. Survival rates can provide an idea of what percentage of people with the same type and stage of cancer are still alive after they were diagnosed. These statistics cannot tell you how long you will live, but they may provide a better understanding of how likely it is that your treatment will be successful.

Questions to Ask Your Provider
Being open with your team of providers and better understanding your own cancer will make treatment less difficult. Your provider wants to answer all of your questions so that you can make informed treatment decisions and fully understand your diagnosis.

Common questions you can ask your provider and cancer team include:
– What type of breast cancer do I have?
– How big is the cancer and where is it located?
– Has the cancer spread to my lymph nodes or other organs?
– What’s the stage of the cancer? What does that mean?
– What are my treatment options and what do you recommend?
– How soon do I need to start treatment?
– How does my type of cancer affect my treatment options and long-term outlook?
– What are my chances of survival, based on my cancer as you see it?
– How do I get a copy of my pathology report?

If you’re going through a breast cancer diagnosis currently, there is hope and help available. If you’re experiencing thoughts and feelings of overwhelming sadness and/or hopelessness, our mental health physicians are readily available to help you navigate this difficult time. We offer a comprehensive care team at Moab Regional Hospital that can care for your mental and physical health.

Early Signs of Breast Cancer

Did you know that death rates of those affected by breast cancer have decreased from 2013-2017? This is believed to be caused by catching the early signs of breast cancer through proper screening and improved treatments. Although a lump in the breast is typically an early indicator of breast cancer, much of the time these lumps that are found are non-cancerous, or benign. Common causes of these benign breast lumps can include:
– Breast infection
– Fibrocystic breast disease
– Fibroadenoma or noncancerous tumor
– Fat necrosis or damaged tissue

While the majority of breast lumps are caused by less severe conditions, new, painless lumps are still the most common symptom of breast cancer. Other early signs of breast cancer may include:
– Changes in the shape of the nipple
– Breast pain that doesn’t go away after a menstrual cycle
– A new lump that doesn’t go away after a menstrual cycle
– Spontaneous nipple discharge (without squeezing) that is clear, red, brown, or yellow
– Unexplained redness, swelling, skin irritation, itchiness, or rash on breast
– Swelling or a lump around the collarbone or under the arm

Having one or more of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have breast cancer. Nipple discharge, for example, can also be caused by an infection. If you do experience any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with one of our providers for a complete evaluation and mammogram.

Breast Examination
A breast self-exam is an inspection of your breasts that you do on your own. Examining your own breasts once a month after a menstrual cycle is a good way to familiarize yourself with how your breasts normally look and feel. If you notice changes in your breasts, it’s important to discuss these with your provider.

To perform a breast self-exam, sit or stand shirtless and braless in front of a mirror with your arms at your sides. To inspect your breasts do the following:
– Look for puckering, dimpling, or changes in size, shape, or symmetry
– Inspect your breasts with your arms raised overhead and the palms of your hands pressed together
– Lift your breasts to see if ridges along the bottom are symmetrical
– Use a methodical technique to ensure you examine your entire breast
– Use different pressure levels when checking areas of your breasts

Understanding the early indicators of breast cancer can lead to earlier identification and diagnosis, as well as lead to more successful treatment. This is why it’s so important to perform self-exams regularly and have a conversation with your provider regarding your family history and your potential risk for breast cancer. Your risk will determine at what age your provider recommends you start receiving mammograms. Typically, women ages 45 and older, mammograms are recommended yearly.

Is your mammogram overdue? Give us a call at 435-719-3794 to schedule your appointment.