Free screenings, information offered at women’s health fair

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – October 1st marks the start of a month-long awareness campaign dedicated to women’s breast health. 22News was at a health fair in Holyoke Wednesday morning and learned one cancer survivor’s story.

“For me it was denial. When I heard it I didn’t believe it. I thought that’s somebody else that happens to,” said Virginia Thomas.

Virginia Thomas made it her New Year’s resolution in 2014 to go in for a mammogram. She works in health care and knows how important they are, but like many women, she’d put it off.

“I will say I did miss my mammogram for a couple of years which I am very regretful I did that,” she added.

Doctors found breast cancer. After three lumpectomies, she received radiation for seven weeks. As of May this year, she’s a survivor.

One in eight women born in the US today will receive that devastating breast cancer diagnosis at some point throughout their lives. But many of those women will fight and survive if they take care of themselves and get their recommended screenings.

That was one of the messages of a health fair Wednesday at Holyoke Medical Center. Too often women get busy caring for spouses, kids, and aging parents. They forget about themselves.

“Women who feel fine, who don’t have a history of breast cancer. They feel they don’t want to know; let’s not rock the boat. Let’s just pretend it’s not going to happen to me,” said Karen Ferroni, Vice President of Medical Affairs at Holyoke Medical Center.

Those spouses, kids, and aging parents do need you around, and one phone call and visit to your doctor could save your life.

“I’m reminding other women don’t do what I did. Make sure you go every year. You’re just too important,” Virginia said.

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