Fallbrook Hospital hosted the Healthy Woman Ladies Night Out on Oct. 25 at the Fallbrook Library. For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the guest speakers were Dr. Aimee Warren who spoke on “Breast Health” and Hope Suhr whose topic was “Speaking About Bras.”
Warren started by encouraging the ladies to get involved in the cause (of breast cancer awareness) and improve their health. She recommended that women have their annual mammogram in October to make it easier to remember to schedule it since “October is all about pink.” She pointed out that even football players wear pink during that month to promote breast cancer awareness.
Warren then covered information that most of the women probably already knew but also answered several questions about what they didn’t know. She said that breast cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in women, right behind skin cancer. Some of the risk factors for breast cancer, from high to low, are age, certain genetic mutations, mammographically dense breasts, high bone density, high dose radiation to the chest, two first degree relatives with breast cancer, alcohol consumption (more than one drink a day), early onset menses (younger than 12), late age for first full term pregnancy, late menopause – over 55, and obesity. The mortality rates for all types of breast cancer increase with age.
While it is important to have clinical breast exams and mammograms starting, it is very important for all women to do a self-exam each month and “get to know the geography of your breasts” according to Warren. She said she has had several patients come to her “having found their own cancer.”
Warren also explained that everyone has BRCA – 1 and BRCA – 2 which are tumor suppressor genes. Mutations in those genes can affect their ability to suppress cancers. Women with these mutated genes have a 65 to 74 percent chance of developing breast cancer so further genetic testing is recommended.
She stressed that no screening test takes the place of a mammogram to decrease the risk of developing breast cancer. Other ways of decreasing that risk, she said, include maintaining a healthy weight throughout life, balancing calorie intake with physical activity, adopting a physically active lifestyle, and eating a healthy diet.
When asked what women should be looking for, she said a little tumor is usually the size of an eraser at the end of a pencil, hard but with a little bit of give and non-mobile, tethered to the chest wall. It is also important to look for any skin changes. She told the ladies to have “self-awareness of your body; it is your job to be an advocate for yourself.”
Hope Suhr, who does personalized bra fittings at her Hope’s Chest boutique in Canyon Lake, talked about how to find the right bra for each body type. She said, “The right size bra gives you better posture, makes you look younger and thinner, feel more feminine and gives you confidence.” It was the personal experience of being fitted that led her to research how to do it and then start helping other women find the right bra. She detailed the “Battle of the Bra,” in which women need freedom on the side for arm movement, coverage and seams for better support.
Suhr said elastic is good for smooth lines. For sagging, “underwire and push-up seams are your friend.” She detailed the anatomy of a bra: the band, cup, channeling, closure, straps and underwire, adding that the number is the band size and the letter is the cup size. A too tight bra can decrease a woman’s lung function, cause back pain and loss of spinal movement according to Suhr. She added that tight straps can cause headaches, numbness and tingling in the arms, nerve damage and neck pain.
She also pointed out that although bras last up to 200 wears, they need to be refreshed daily by adjusting the straps which stretch a little each time they are worn. She also said each bra is manufactured differently, (hand fed into a sewing machine). So, even bras of the same make and style won’t fit the same way, so it is important to try each bra on before buying it. Furthermore, there are over 23 styles of bra, each for a different figure making getting the right fit key to wearing a comfortable bra.
The social aspect of the Ladies Night Out program is as important as the health information provided at these events. Before the presentations, the roomful of women enjoyed a healthy salad prepared by Fallbrook Hospital staff while chatting with friends and acquaintances. Membership in the Healthy Woman program is free; to sign up, call (760) 731-8432 or visit www.fallbrookhospital.com.