Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sutter Amador Hospital Foundation Announces Matching Grant Campaign for New Mammography Equipment

Breast Cancer Survivor Stresses Importance of Annual Mammograms

Jackson, Calif. – Mel Welsh knows firsthand how critical regular screening is in detecting and treating breast cancer successfully. The 60-year-old Pine Grove resident finished treatment for breast cancer last fall after an annual mammogram revealed abnormal results.

“I feel very grateful that we caught the cancer early. If I hadn’t gotten my mammogram every year, it could have been a very different outcome,” says Welsh, a registered nurse with the Sutter Care Coordination Program.

Welsh is enthusiastic about Sutter Amador Hospital Foundation’s $300,000 fundraising campaign to acquire new mammography equipment that will significantly improve diagnostic care for patients in the community. The equipment’s 3-D technology will improve image quality, enabling doctors to identify cancer at an earlier, more treatable stage. In addition, the new technology will reduce patients’ radiation exposure by as much as 30 percent.

The foundation seeks to raise $150,000 from the community, which Sutter Health will match dollar for dollar up to $150,000, doubling donors’ investment if the foundation successfully raises half through cash gifts or pledges byDecember 31, 2014.

“Access to high-quality care locally is a priority for us,” says Anne Platt, CEO of Sutter Amador Hospital. “New mammography equipment is an essential community need and will enable local residents to receive the best and latest diagnostic care close to home.”

Because Welsh was faithful about getting an annual mammogram, Sutter Amador Hospital radiologist Lincoln Russin, M.D. was able to detect changes in her breast tissue from one exam to the next. Prior to her diagnosis, Welsh’s mammogram revealed calcifications – calcium deposits within the breast tissue sometimes associated with cancer. Dr. Russin told her to come back in six months for another exam.

At Welsh’s follow-up appointment, Sutter Amador Hospital radiologist Lucy Miller, M.D., detected significant changes. The images revealed that the number of calcifications had doubled. A biopsy last June confirmed breast cancer and Welsh underwent a lumpectomy and four weeks of radiation treatment.

“I take pride in my health. I run 30 miles a week and I don’t drink or smoke. I have always been very proactive with my health,” says Welsh. “Nobody is immune to this disease.”

“Regular screening is the best way to lower the risk of dying from breast cancer. Early detection means that treatment can be started earlier in the course of the disease, possibly before the cancer has spread,” says Dr. Russin “Mel’s experience is a perfect example of how mammography, along with clinical breast exams, are the most effective ways to detect breast cancer early.”

Welsh believes the new 3-D mammography equipment will improve breast cancer detection significantly.

“Breast cancer can touch anyone, but treatment is successful if it is caught early,” she says. “Think about the loved ones in your life when you think about supporting Sutter Amador Hospital’s campaign. If we have the latest medical technology, there’s no need to leave the community for health care.”

To learn more about the matching grant fundraising initiative, please contact Jody Boetzer at 209-257-7619 orboetzej@sutterhealth.org.

PHOTO: Sutter Amador Hospital radiologist Lincoln Russin, M.D. (L) with breast cancer survivor Mel Welsh, R.N.

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