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Rutter Mills hosts free mammogram clinic, emphasizes importance of early detection

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Posted at 6:07 AM, Aug 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-08 18:31:42-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. The good news is that survival rates continue to improve.

According to Susan G. Komen, stage one and two survival rates range from 90 to 100 percent. The key, though, is early detection. When found in the initial stages, there are more treatment options, shorter protocols and fewer side effects.

Being told you have breast cancer leaves a woman, or a man, full of fear, uncertainty and helplessness.

The Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation says one in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Six years ago, that one was Tedi Chiara of Chesapeake.

After what was supposed to be a routine test, she got the news. Tedi learned she had two suspicious spots in her right breast, but was told she could wait six months to see if anything changed. Tedi refused the delay. She lost both her mother and grandmother to breast cancer and felt time was not on her side. With that, she insisted on moving forward, and, after having a biopsy performed, her suspicions were confirmed.

Tedi recollected, “When they called me into the room, they said, 'Well, you have breast cancer, but you have DCIS/Ductal Carcinoma Situ Stage Zero.' That meant the cancer was still in the milk ducts and had not spread at all.”

Within four months, Tedi underwent a double mastectomy and had implant surgery scheduled. In the meantime, she learned more from the doctor about the type of cancer she could have been battling.

Tedi said, “It was a very aggressive form of cancer and she said had I waited that six months, there’s no possibility I could have made it through that.”

Early detection saved Tedi’s life, and it saves lives every day. Women of a certain age should be screened every year.

According to Dr. Stephanie Repole, a breast surgeon with Chesapeake Regional Breast Care, “Most women should begin annual mammograms at age 40. If you have a family history, somebody in your family that’s been diagnosed with breast cancer, we’ll often recommend getting it done earlier.”

Obstacles, like time, not knowing where to turn and lack of resources, often get in the way, but a group founded in 2009 that brings together motorcyclists from around the community works to eliminate any financial strains.

“The Pink Ride is an organization, a local 501(C)(3) nonprofit, that is committed to providing breast cancer screening and treatment for patients who are under-insured or uninsured here in Hampton Roads” explained Lori Aitkenhead, board member of The Pink Ride.

The ride is the brainchild of Tony Gower of Virginia Beach, who founded the Pink Ride. His wife survived breast cancer and, afterward, he pledged to help others fight it. The Pink Ride’s flagship event is an annual motorcycle ride that raises funds for those who cannot afford annual mammograms and any treatment that could come with a follow-up diagnosis. This year’s ride is Sunday, October 2nd. You can find additional information at thepinkride.org .

The group partners with Chesapeake Regional Healthcare and its mobile mammography unit to bring mammograms into the community. A well-known campaign in Hampton Roads is Chesapeake Regional Health Foundation’s Bra-ha-ha, and it serves as the cornerstone fundraiser providing breast health services to eligible uninsured and under-insured in our area.

This year’s Bra-ha-ha Awards Show and Auction is set for Friday, October 14th at the Chesapeake campus of Tidewater Community College. Learn more at brahaha.org .

The attorneys of Rutter Mills in Norfolk are also long-time promoters of early detection, breast health and providing a gateway for those who cannot afford mammograms. Their support and diligent advocacy are more than important messages; it’s personal.

Rutter Mills Managing Partner Brother Rutter shared, “My wife is a two-time cancer survivor. Two separate cancers, genetically, twenty years apart, and both of them were caught very early, and so her physical difficulties afterward were lessened dramatically by being able to find the cancer early.”

Rutter Mills has teamed up with The Pink Ride to bring mammograms to women who need them in Hampton Roads. They are hosting the Mobile Mammogram Unit Monday, August 8th 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the corner of Brambleton Avenue and Boush Street in Downtown Norfolk.

If you are over 40, uninsured, and have not had a breast screening within the past 12 months, you can sign up for a free mammogram. Appointments are necessary. To make one, visit chesapeakeregional.com/services-specialties/breast-health/mobile-mammography.

Don’t wait. Do it for your family, do it for your friends, but, most importantly, do it for you.