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Tomorrow, the Idaho Statesman plans to publish a pink newspaper honoring cancer survivors and benefiting several organizations devoted to treating and curing cancer, including our own St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute (MSTI).
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the focus of the Statesman effort is on breast cancer. Here at St. Luke’s, we are committed to women’s health and to making sure every woman has access to breast examinations and mammography. The dedicated employees who work in our Breast Cancer Detection Centers throughout the region we serve are saving lives. I am so proud of the work they do.
Thousands of women nationwide will be diagnosed this year, and as a cancer survivor myself, I know the life-changing significance of being told you have this disease. I detected my own cancer on a self-examination before it had spread.
I couldn’t believe it. “Physicians don’t get cancer, patients do!” I thought to myself.
And overnight, I became a patient. I experienced the loss of a sense of immortality. I worried for the well-being of my family. I began to experience the vulnerability associated with being a patient, and having untold numbers of people now seeing a private part of my anatomy.
And even once the cancer is treated, you always fear the development of another cancer and are extra-sensitive to any bump or lump that subsequently occurs.
At MSTI, not only do we have caring nurses, therapists, oncologists, radiation oncologists, and the best in treatment options, but we also have trained professionals who help patients through this emotional journey and who can assess the genetic risks for family members.
We look forward to the day when we can cure and ultimately prevent all cancers. When you are reminded by the pink newspaper tomorrow, if you know a cancer survivor, give them a hug. If you care about someone, tell them to get screened based on what is appropriate for their age and gender. You can find recommended screenings by clicking here.
And please consider donating to St. Luke’s Foundation or to another organization that supports cancer education, research, and treatment. Each one of us can make a difference; together, we can stamp out this disease!
David C. Pate, M.D., J.D., is president and CEO of St. Luke's Health System, based in Boise, Idaho. Dr. Pate joined the System in 2009. He received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.
How do you define health? Physical? Mental? Social? Health goes beyond medical care. It's how we take care of ourselves, how we interact with our communities, how we take care of each other.
Let St. Luke's support your health, however you define it.