|Saturday, December 7, 2013|
Wendy Osborne, left, laughs at a bystander alongside Denise Hazen, author and breast cancer survivor, at the end of Tuesday' Power of the Pur$e luncheon at the Dow Academic Center in Lake Jackson. Hazen was the keynote speaker at the luncheon and was signing a copy of her book for Osborne.
Posted: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 2:00 am | Updated: 9:43 pm, Tue Sep 25, 2012.
LAKE JACKSON — When Denise Hazen learned she had breast cancer, her first reaction was to huddle in her bed and cry.
Her second reaction was to be the most fabulous cancer patient, a goal she maintained throughout her treatments, always making sure she looked her best.
“I'm fancy and I know it and I like it,” Hazen said to a room full of women at the first Power of the Purse luncheon. A friend of local breast cancer survivor Jan McConnell, this Houston woman has spent her years since cancer encouraging area women who are going through the same ordeal.
Her somewhat girlie reaction to breast cancer was what made her the perfect speaker for Power of the Purse, Brazosport Health Foundation's initiative to raise money for women's health care issues.
Power of the Purse “celebrates women's purchasing power and economic influence,” said Judith Pepper, executive director of the Brazosport Health Foundation. This first Power of the Purse event raised money for new 3D imaging software that will aid the new digital mammography machine at Brazosport Regional Health System. The goal is for the earliest cancer detection possible.
Though people still could donate and add to the total as they walked out the door, Pepper announced the Brazosport Health Foundation had raised more than $125,000 for the 3D software.
It was eight years ago when Hazen learned she had breast cancer, a growth the size of a peach in one of her breasts. Her treatment would include 17 rounds of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and six weeks of daily radiation.
After letting herself crawl into bed at first, Hazen recalls thinking that the day she was diagnosed with breast cancer she earlier had run 4 miles. If she could run 4 miles with breast cancer, she decided she could handle the treatment.
“I decided I was going to be in control of my cancer,” she said. “I was going to show up at MD Anderson the cutest cancer patient they had ever seen.”
While it might seem like something simple, her determination to look good every time she went in for a treatment made her feel empowered throughout the process.
With her family rallying around her, the new friends she met and the old ones who came to her aid, Hazen had a lot of love to lean on. So much so, she later decided to write a book, “Treat Her Like a Princess: The Girlfriend's Guide to Breast Cancer Support.”
She said every single breast cancer patient deserves to be treated the way she was.
Women helping their friends through breast cancer need to help them let go of the many responsibilities they had before the cancer, Hazen said. They need to celebrate with them and just do something for them, she said.
In attendance at the luncheon were many local breast cancer survivors supporting the hospital's push to have the best equipment and technology available for early detection of breast cancer.
Nancy Oelfke had a double mastectomy and has been cancer-free for years, she said.
She had her treatments and surgery in Houston, but is excited Brazosport Regional Health System is now a more relevant option for women with breast cancer.
“It's getting harder for women, especially older women, to get to Houston for treatment,” Oelfke said.
Oelfke brought many of her friends to the luncheon with her.
“My doctor is very excited about us having it,” said breast cancer survivor Lorene Griffin.
To have this software available in the Brazosport area would be wonderful, McConnell said.
“Early detection is the key with breast cancer,” she said.
As a radiologist at Brazosport Regional Health System, John Maxwell sees many women coming in for their annual mammogram who are scared of the process, he said.
Of course, the procedure is a minor concern to these women compared to the possibility of them being diagnosed with breast cancer, he said.
About 10 percent of women getting a mammogram will be called back in for another mammogram because of an area of concern, Maxwell said. Only about 5 percent of those women will be sent for a biopsy and one out of five of those women will get a diagnoses of breast cancer, he said.
The new imaging software can help allay fears, he said.
What would be one image of the breast will now be divided into 15 slices or more, getting a more unobstructed view of every layer of the breast, Maxwell said.
“My goal is to have you have no reason to leave this area for breast cancer care,” he said.
Rhonda Woodrome, an Angleton teacher, had her diagnosis, treatment, surgery and reconstruction at Brazosport Regional Health System.
The breast cancer mass was found thanks to the imaging center's new digital mammography machine that will be further enhanced by the 3D software, Woodrome said.
The Brazosport community deserves great health care and the new imaging software is a great step in that direction, said Al Guevara, president and CEO of Brazosport Regional Health System.
Katlynn Lanham is a reporter for The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0150.
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