Ochsner kicks off Breast Cancer Awareness month by painting the parking lot pink

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BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) — During the month of October, many people will wear pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month, but Ochsner is taking that awareness even further… into the parking lot.

Ochsner staff painted the lines in the parking lot pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month and even made chalk drawings by staff outside the door for patients to enjoy.

But despite the name, breast cancer is not the only focus. “Breast cancer is the number one disease that we talk about this month, but it’s also about other cancers,” says Section Head of Hematology and Oncology Dr. Jay Brooks. He says breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and there are excellent screening options. “Mammograms over the last decades have really reduced the death rates of women who are dying of breast cancer, discovering breast cancer at earlier stages, where we can have better treatment and prevent women from dying of the disease and give them many, many years of happy, productive lives for themselves and for their families,” says Dr. Brooks. He suggests that women begin those screenings every year after 40, and earlier if they have a family history of breast cancer.

Dr. Brooks says it is important to conduct regular self-checks outside of yearly mammograms, “we do promote women examine their breasts, at least on a monthly basis, same time each month, so that they can understand their body and in doing so they can also look at their skin, see if there’s any changes for things like melanoma, understanding that, you know, you are the best guide to what’s happening to your body. You know what the best. You’ve been in it all of your life. Right?”

There are ways to reduce your risk of cancer, “20% of all cancers are related to obesity, breast cancer is one of those cancers. So not smoking cigarettes or not using tobacco in any form and having a healthy weight reduces your cancer risk by over 50%,” says Dr. Brooks.

We cannot ignore that we are still in a pandemic, and that has lead to many people feeling uneasy about going to the doctor, but Dr. Daniel Ezekwudo MD., Ph.D says that is no reason to ignore your health. “It’s been a difficult period for every one of us. I think the impact of COVID-19 over the past two years cannot be under estimated, but one important thing here is that it has not really affected our ability to diagnose these patients,” says Dr. Ezukwudo.

He is encouraging patients to keep appointments with their primary care doctors and not skip mammograms because early detection is the best defense against cancer. 

The painting of the parking lot began in 2018, and we were able to speak to a patient who has seen it from the beginning. Kymeesha Jacobs says when she saw it for the first time, she felt “much support from Ochsner and the team of employees, the nurses, and everybody.”

“I was diagnosed in 2017 and it was definitely heartbreaking at the time. However, I had the best support from family, friends, and the Ochsner team, everybody. It never was a sad moment for me at all,” says Jacobs.

She says she started out as a patient, but then began working for Ochsner, “the experience was amazing from day one, so I joined the team.”

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