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Think pink for breast health
Pink Sunday focuses on faith community
Published Wednesday, April 6, 2011 4:52 pm
by Ryanne Persinger

Dr. Yvette Bessent has dealt with patients who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Bessent, an obstetrician and gynecologist at NorthCross OB/GYN in Huntersville, reminds clients that waiting is never helpful when it comes to breast health. She recommends her patients to get mammograms at 35, then annually at age 40 unless there is a family history.

“I still have a patient that thanks me for saving her life,” Bessent said. “Did I save her life? No. But I am very aggressive with patients when it comes to breast health.”

At 35, her client had breast cancer.

“If she had waited until 40 to have a mammogram she probably would have had a lump,” Bessent said. “She could have had a wider focus of breast cancer.”

On Sunday, African American churches are going pink to get the word out about breast cancer and breast health. Bessent is attending the event at her church, The Park Ministries.

Over 100 churches in Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Lincoln and Gaston counties will participate in the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Charlotte affiliate’s second Pink Sunday.

“We’re providing free educational materials on breast health,” said Mary Hamrick, Komen’s community outreach coordinator manager. “Then each church can plan their own Pink Sunday program.”

Some churches will have speakers; some will host pink receptions, and others will have various activities. Congregations will dress in pink.

“We just want to make sure women know what they’re supposed to be doing and where to get help if they need any services,” Hamrick said. “We know that African American women are diagnosed less often than other ethnicities but they actually have a higher mortality rate. We feel it’s important to spread the word on early detection and sharing breast health awareness in the African American community.”

According to Komen Charlotte:

• Only 49 percent of black women have reported having a mammogram within the past year.

• African American women in Mecklenburg County are diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer at twice the rate of other populations, thereby underscoring the importance of awareness and early detection.

Bessent, a Komen Charlotte board member, says women often aren’t aware of what Komen does.

“Komen is here for them,” she said. “The whole purpose is for this organization to be used as a resource.”

If nothing else, Bessent urges women to conduct a self-breast exam after their monthly cycle; and if you feel a lump, go to a doctor for a mammogram.

“African Americans are so much more prominently affected by breast cancer because we get diagnosed later and more aggressively,” Bessent added. “And remember, you don’t need a doctor’s order to get a mammogram.”

For more information, call (704) 347-8181.

Also: Sisterhood of survivors

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