Phoebe hosts ‘Pink Walk’ for breast cancer awareness

Phoebe hosts ‘Pink Walk’ for breast cancer awareness
Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 6:37 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital hosted its employee Pink Walk on Tuesday.

This is the first Pink Walk before the start of the pandemic. And Phoebe’s staff tell WALB they encourage all women to go and get screened for breast cancer.

The event included a few speakers and served to celebrate survivorship among Phoebe’s staff, patients and caregivers.

Participants even got to vote on their favorite Breast Cancer Awareness Month-themed bra, as well as walk a lap around the hospital in honor of the cause.

A breast cancer themed decorated bra.
A breast cancer themed decorated bra.(WALB)

Ursula Mathis-Dennis, who is the Director of Quality for Phoebe’s Cancer Center, told WALB the hospital gets around 300 new breast cancer diagnoses a year.

“Your biggest support is prevention actually,” Mathis-Dennis said. “Prevention and screening are our number one support system for breast cancer and breast cancer survivors; and to know your genetic status. So if you can get your annual mammograms, early detection is always the best detection. When you have your mammograms, ask your physician about genetic testing.”

Martha Knowles is a five-year breast cancer survivor and is a member of the hospital’s breast cancer support group.

Martha Knowles (pictured above) is a five-year breast cancer survivor.
Martha Knowles (pictured above) is a five-year breast cancer survivor.(WALB)

“It’s a great event. And I’m not just here for myself,” Knowles said. “I lost my cousin last year through breast cancer. And I’m here not only for me but for her. To keep her memory alive. She was younger than I was and she found out after I did. Just to keep her memory going that we all need to get checked and stay aware of what’s going on with our own bodies.”

Monique Wilson works at Phoebe. She was diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2016 after discovering it herself. She says breast cancer awareness should be encouraged all year long.

Monique Wilson (pictured above) is a Phoebe employee currently fighting breast cancer.
Monique Wilson (pictured above) is a Phoebe employee currently fighting breast cancer. (WALB)

“Being out here today serves a great purpose in knowing the number one: we are survivors. Number two: we are thrivers. We are also warriors,” Wilson said. “But every day, it’s a fight for us as a thriver, survivor and warrior. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but as a survivor, it’s an everyday fight with us.”

Staff and survivors tell WALB they would encourage all women to get checked and speak up even if they notice something small because it could be something bigger.

Wilson says she is lucky, as some women might not work at a hospital or even know what to look for.

“One of the greatest things is having the physicians here at the place that I work to share with them what I found and what steps that I could take to be more preventative in by catching my breast cancer early,” Wilson said.

She adds that she did not have to go through chemotherapy, but did do 33 treatments of radiation. Now, she is on a hormone blocker for the remainder of her 10-year bout with breast cancer.

“At first, I was on the outside looking in,” Wilson said. “But now, being on both ends of having the breast cancer and working in the cancer center, it was a great benefit to me. Especially in knowing hematology doctors, as well as the oncology doctors. And the surgeons.”

Knowles says she found out about her breast cancer in a different way.

“I went in for a routine mammogram. And I found out from a biopsy that I had breast cancer,” she said. “I was in shock because I didn’t really have that many relatives that had breast cancer. But I was just shocked and my nerves were just a wreck. But after a while, it settled down and I just knew what I had to do.”

She says women should not neglect getting health screenings like breast cancer.

“Stay aware of what’s going on, cause in the pandemic, I didn’t go get checked like I should,” Knowles said. “But some people don’t go to get checked to keep their body checked. And when you find out something’s going on, don’t be too scared to go to the doctor and see what it is. Cause it could be nothing, and it could be something.”

Both survivors tell me early detection is key and may save your life.