October is breast cancer awareness month and whether you are looking for a mammogram or going through breast cancer currently, there are a variety of services available to people locally.
Cascade Valley Hospital is having extended hours for mammograms every Wednesday for the month of October.
Mammograms are available until 6:30 p.m. each Wednesday.
“We do offer more little goodies for the month of October as well,” said Jacqueline Johnson, imaging director at the hospital.
Johnson recommends women get their first mammogram by the age of 40. “We recommend every year after that, but it’s always up to the patient,” said Johnson.
A cancer that is detected earlier is easier to fight, said Johnson.
“The earlier we detect breast cancer the more treatable it is and the less likely it is to spread throughout the body,” she said.
The Arlington hospital can do some diagnostics on site
“If we’ve found an abnormality with the screening we can also do diagnostics and do the biopics,” said Johnson.
If someone receives a positive diagnosis they can begin working with an oncologist, or a surgeon if needed, on site.
Johnson said hospital staff can help connect patients to other services.
“I would speak with their family provider. There are many local programs available for patients,” she said.
“We also have a family advocate that can help direct breast cancer patients to aid or assistance or emotional support,” she said.
Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett also provides a number of programs for breast cancer survivors.
"The Providence Regional Cancer Partnership offers a variety of support groups for survivors in addition to resources including naturopathy, rehabilitation therapy, plastic surgery and educational resources," said Erin Chaney, manager of women's and children's outpatient services for the Comprehensive Breast Center for Providence Regional Medical Center.
Their support groups often help people feel less alone, said Chaney, and help "to learn how best to manage the physical and emotional changes that occur with breast cancer."
The center celebrates survivors with an annual "Pink the Rink" with local Safeway stores and the Everett Silvertips, said Chaney.
Those events help fund some of the services provided at Providence's center.
"Financial concerns should never be a barrier to receiving comprehensive care," said Chaney.
Chaney recommends those diagnosed with breast cancer contact the Comprehensive Breast Center or Providence Regional Cancer Partnership to learn more about services there.
"We have a social worker, and many others, who can help them to connect with services, such as transportation, wigs, therapies, support groups, and financial assistance, among others," said Chaney.
Jerri Wood, program manager and mission director of the local American Cancer Society (ACS) branch, also recommends the society’s toll free line at 1-800-227-2345 for any recently diagnosed patients.
The line is open 24/7, she said, even on holidays, and staff on the line have a directory of services available across the nation and can let you know what assistance your insurance will pay for as well.
The ACS number is not just for breast cancer patients as well. Wood’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and she found it useful.
“As a caregiver you can call the number and ask questions, for example questions that I didn’t want to scare my mother with,” she said.
The ACS provides a number of local services as well, said Wood.
“The most impactful program that we have is the ‘Road to Recovery,’” she said.
Road to Recovery has provided transportation for cancer patients to their hospital appointments for more than 30 years, said Wood.
“That program is important because if you can’t get to your treatment you’re not going to be a survivor,” she said.
They also have assistance for those who need to ride the ferry to get to their appointment.
Other programs like ‘Look and Feel Right’ and ‘Reach to Recovery’ help breast cancer patients with their emotions.
‘Look and Feel Right’ allows patients to “learn about the physical effects of treatment.” The program also provides a free wig to those who want them.
‘Reach and Recovery’ connects recent breast cancer patients with survivors who have gone through the experience.
Wood said it is really helpful “because they get to see a survivor leading a normal life, sort of a light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.
Information about connecting with any of the ACS program is available at their call line at 1-800-227-2345.
Wood said that programs like Road to Recovery are always looking for volunteers. “We could really use more road drivers,” she said.
Anyone that is interested can contact the call line as well for more information.