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MOBILE, Alabama (10/5/2018) -- Cancer survivors rocked the fashion runway Thursday at the 9th Annual Think Pink Tea, a celebration of breast cancer awareness organized by USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute.
“Today is about honoring them and all the survivors in attendance, their caregivers and family members,” said Dr. Jennifer Young Pierce, leader of Cancer Control and Prevention at MCI.
Hundreds of well-wishers clapped and danced as the models showed off a new fall clothing line by Talbots featuring dresses, sweaters and jackets in pink, maroon, gray and saffron. The event, held at the Mobile Convention Center, also included a panel discussion on breast cancer treatment, research and support.
It’s estimated that 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society.
“I am a walking billboard for mammograms,” said panelist Rhonda Turley of Orange Beach. Turley’s breast cancer was diagnosed after her regular mammogram, which was six months overdue at the time. “I had no history of breast cancer on either side of my family.”
Turley, who lived in Kansas, said she was placed on a regimen of chemotherapy, including immunotherapy, then surgery. She told a nurse navigator she wanted to see a doctor who was kind, skilled and “into research.”
Later, when she moved with her husband to Alabama, she continued her treatment, this time at MCI with radiation oncologist Dr. Elesyia Outlaw. They connected immediately. “She told me, ‘You are your best advocate,’” Turley said. “If you feel you’re being treated like a human being and not a number, it goes a long way.”
Dr. Outlaw also runs a class called THRIVE to help patients transition after treatment. “With THRIVE, we acknowledge the fact that health isn’t just the absence of cancer,” she said. “We start looking at mental health, social interaction and how does it affect your spiritual life? We sit down and say, ‘What’s the most important thing to you now?’”
In addition to chemotherapy and radiation, MCI offers a variety of clinical trials and supportive services such as support groups and wellness programs.
Medical oncologist Dr. Teja Poosarla of MCI said that new clinical trials are targeting triple-negative breast cancer, which is the most aggressive type. “Clinical trials are very important at MCI. These are ways to bring exciting new treatments to patients.”
About USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute: As the region’s only academic cancer center, USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute combines NIH-funded scientific research with comprehensive cancer care, serving communities across southern Alabama, southeast Mississippi and portions of northwest Florida. With three convenient locations, more than 50 clinical trials and five support groups, the Mitchell Cancer Institute guides patients and their families from the moment of diagnosis through survivorship.
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