The work that Peggy Banks does as a breast patient navigator at Porter Regional Hospital’s Center for Women’s Health is more than a passion— it’s personal.
Banks, a registered nurse, welcomed those gathered for the hospital’s 5th annual Blow Away Breast Cancer event as both a dedicated team member and a three-year breast cancer survivor herself. She stood on the stairs in the hospital lobby arm in arm with her daughter, also a three-year survivor, who was diagnosed only a month after Banks.
“I want to say thank you for showing up,” Banks said in her opening remarks after Chaplain Michael Porter lead those gathered in a prayer of courage, support, and thanks.
“For those of you who are patients here and have received care here at Porter Regional Hospital, thank you for showing up for yourselves, wherever you are in your journey,” she continued. “For those of you who are partners, family, coworkers, friends, and loved ones, thank you for showing up with your support, your encouragement, and your love.”
Wednesday afternoon’s Blow Away Breast Cancer event was hosted by the hospital’s Center for Women’s Health.
“I want to thank all the friends and colleagues who are here for your support of the flag-raising ceremony,” said Radiologist Dr. Esther Lee. “It’s been a pleasure working with all of my coworkers here.”
As a 30-year veteran in her field, 25 of which have been dedicated to breast radiology, Dr. Lee has witnessed drastic technological advancements throughout her career. The 3D ultrasounds and breast MRI technology used at Porter Regional Hospital allow them to diagnose and treat breast cancer in its earliest stages, drastically reducing the number of late-stage patients.
“Those technologies require commitment from institutions,” Dr. Lee said. “Porter has met those challenges at each step of the way.”
A key message of the event: don’t put off your annual screening mammogram. Screening mammography remains the gold standard for early detection of breast cancer. In general, women age 40 and older should have an annual screening mammogram, but all adult women should talk to their doctors about when screening mammography is right for them, as other risk factors may be involved. Porter Regional Hospital’s Center for Women’s Health offers leading-edge 3D technology for screening mammograms, which aids radiologists in detecting abnormalities.
Porter Regional Hospital flies the pink ribbon flag for Breast Cancer Awareness for the entire month of October, said Sean Dardeau, market CEO for Porter Health Care System.
“I appreciate the team that is here today— they are great caregivers,” Dardeau said. “Our Center for Women’s Health is integral to helping patients through what is a very anxiety-inducing situation. It helps to have professionals with plans in place to ease people’s minds.”
With the newly-raised flag flapping in the breeze overhead, breast cancer survivors, supporters, and hospital staff moved outside to plant pink pinwheels in the flower beds lining the building’s main entrances to symbolically blow away breast cancer.
As the pinwheels twirl in the wind, Porter Regional Hospital hopes they will create awareness about the importance of annual screening mammograms to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages, when it is most treatable and survival rates are higher.
And rest assured, should you need them, breast patient navigator Banks and her colleagues will be there to guide and support you through every step along the way.
“It is a privilege and an honor to help people through such a vulnerable and personal time,” Banks said. “It’s my job to help them know that it may no longer be a death sentence. It’s just a moment in their life, they will get through it, and we will be there with them.”
If you or someone you know is in need of mammogram screening, contact the Center for Women’s Health at Porter Regional Hospital at 219-983-8300 or visit https://www.porterhealth.com/.