Health Break!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Calling all Divas in the New York City area! 

I’ve got something very important to share with you. Have any of you heard of the Breast Examination Center of Harlem? If not, you are in for a real treat! As we all know, breast cancer is a devastating disease that has affected many of us, either directly or indirectly. What we all should know is that one way to fight breast cancer is routine testing and early detection.

Since 1979, the Breast Examination Center of Harlem (“BECH”), an outreach program of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, has screened over 200,000 women for breast cancer. Amazing, right? What’s more amazing is that there are still so many women, and men, in the NYC area that are unaware of the services offered by BECH. (WHAT!!!)  So here’s what I want all of my fellow Professional Divas to do: please share this information with everyone you know in the NYC area about BECH. With your help, we can spread the message that early detection is one of the keys to fighting this disease.

As I suspect, Professional Divas are always keen on doing research before we put information out into the universe. As such, here is a list of free, high quality services offered by BECH:

Breast-Cancer Screening - One of BECH’s specially trained nurse practitioners will give you a physical examination. She will feel your breasts and underarms for lumps or anything else unusual. Every woman should see a health-care professional for this kind of exam every year. 

Mammograms - BECH offers mammography, a procedure which uses x-rays to produce a picture of the breast. Mammography is the most widely used method for detecting breast cancer.

Pelvic Examinations and Pap Smears - During the pelvic examination, a nurse practitioner will gently press on your abdomen to feel the organs in your pelvis (uterus, vagina, ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, and rectum) for anything unusual about their size or shape. During this exam, she will also take a few cells from your cervix to check for cancer or other conditions, such as sexually transmitted diseases. This test is called a Pap smear.  

Counseling - If the nurse finds a lump or anything else unusual in your breasts or if the results of your Pap smear are not normal, one of our counselors will give you advice about other tests or procedures we may recommend. The counselor will carefully explain the test or procedure to you; she will also advise you about getting a second opinion before choosing treatment. She will encourage you to ask questions and to tell her about any concerns you may have. And she will give you some written material that will help explain these recommendations to you and your family.

Patient Follow-up - If all of your test results at BECH are normal, you will be advised to return to BECH in a year for routine cancer screening. If you are at high risk for developing cancer, because other women in your family have had breast cancer, for instance, or if BECH recommends more tests, BECH will set up an appointment for you to come back sooner for a follow-up visit.

Education - During your visit, BECH will show you how to do simple, at-home exams of your breasts every month. BECH also takes their educational programs in breast self-examination (BSE) techniques to many places in the community. Video presentations, workshops, and seminars on BSE and other women's health issues have been held throughout New York in churches, senior-citizen centers, schools, businesses, street fairs, even detention centers. If you are interested in having BECH come to your church or other group, please call the health educator at (212) 531-8000.

More About BECH

The Breast Examination Center of Harlem houses 15 full-time staff, comprised of the Program Director, a health educator, mammography technicians, patient navigators, session assistants, plus other administrative support staff. The Breast Examination Center of Harlem has received many awards for its outreach accomplishments, including the Eleanor Roosevelt Community Service Certificate of Merit.
Please note that some tests or procedures, such as removal of lumps, are not done at BECH, but they can help you make arrangements for them. If you need one of these tests, your counselor will explain the test to you, give you advice, and discuss any of your questions or concerns. She will also give you information about where you can get these tests. If you wish, she will make the appointment for you.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact BECH at:

163 West 125th Street, Fourth Floor
New York, NY 10027
(212) 531-8000.

Also, please visit The Breast Examination Center of Harlem’s website at:  

Please help me spread the word!

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