Breast Cancer Awareness at CHRISTUS Health

Friday was a Pink Out at CHRISTUS Health.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Recognizing October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, CHRISTUS Associates sported pink, in varying shades, and showed their support for those going through the cancer battle and those who beat it.

Other Associates like JoAnn Von Plinsky, a breast cancer survivor, also wore pink and encouraged women to get their annual mammograms and be aware of their risk factors. Her older sister had recovered from breast cancer when JoAnn received news in 2005 that would change her into the advocate she is today.

“I just went in for a routine mammogram and ultrasound which I’ve done for years and my doctor said ‘hmm, we’ve got a little abnormality here,'” explained JoAnn. After having surgery, the doctor’s suspicions were confirmed. She had breast cancer. “I was devastated. But, good for me it was caught early. I had a lumpectomy and radiation and 13 years later. I’m still cancer free.”

Now she encourages all her co-workers to do a yearly mammogram.

“I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t have a mammogram every year,” said JoAnn. “I’m trying to be an advocate because never in my wildest dreams would I think I would have breast cancer.”

JoAnn received life-saving preventative care and there were others on Friday during CHRISTUS Health’s Pink Out who also had the opportunity to receive a mammogram by just stepping outside and into a mobile mammography unit parked outside the system office in Irving.

Engaging in routine preventive care is essential for early diagnoses and treatment. However, for more than 1,000 women who work throughout CHRISTUS Health’s U.S. facilities, it has been more than two years since they received their annual mammograms. For some, signing up for Friday’s mobile mammogram session was their first time getting screened.

“These were numbers we felt we could change. We began to look for ways we could help,” explained Holly Tucker, CHRISTUS Health’s Program Manager of Corporate Wellness Benefits.

CHRISTUS Health Associate, Patricia McDonald, took part in the screening. She was the first one on the bus and it was her first time getting a mammogram.

“It was a little scary because I had never done it before. Today’s screening gave me the opportunity to take better care of myself as I approach my mid-to-late 40’s,” said Patricia. “I’m glad I did it because now when I get the results in 7 days, I will know more about my health. With knowledge I have power and CHRISTUS made me think of my health more today and made it convenient for me to get this screening.”

The decision to bring the Mobile Mammography Unit from CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances in Tyler, Texas where it is stationed, up to Dallas was an easy one. The goal is to bring health care to those, like Patricia, who support thousands of clinicians across Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana and Latin America.

“We are in the business of helping communities stay healthy. Thus, we know we also need to help our own and make health care convenient for our busy Associates right here in our corporate office,” said Holly.

CHRISTUS has no hospitals in the Dallas Metroplex, but it is one of the 10 largest Catholic health care systems in the U.S.

“Many of the Associates who work in Irving have demanding jobs supporting thousands of others in the CHRISTUS family. We want to support them by breaking down those barriers to receiving routine preventive care,” said Holly.

“They may be unable to take time off work, be busy with their families or have any number of other reasons preventing them from seeking care. It is important to CHRISTUS that our Associates have time to devote to their health care, and we are eager to help make that easier with direct access to our Mobile Mammography unit,” explained Holly.

The Mobile Mammography Unit is based at CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System in Tyler. The system office made the decision to bring the Mobile Mammography Unit to their Associates for one day only. And, when the sign up email went out, within 15 minutes, the mobile mammography unit was booked solid for the day. As a result, the Mobile Mammography Unit will make a return trip for another date this year, December 13.