State Health Commissioner Honors Breast Cancer Survivors, Stresses the Life-Saving Power of Early Detection
National statistics show that a woman's five–year survival rate is above 97% in cases in which the breast cancer is detected early.
Albany, October 7 – Offering a message of hope and promise to New York women in their fight to survive breast cancer, State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H. today delivered a keynote address in which she cited national statistics showing that the five–year survival rate for women with breast cancer is 97% when it is localized or confined to the breast. Dr. Novello's keynote address was part of New York State's 1999 Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Month activities, which included a ribbon–cutting ceremony to unveil the Gallery of Courage exhibit in honor of New York's breast cancer survivors.
Dr. Novello said, "Courage is what helps us succeed in life, and hope inspires us to try. The women honored in the 1999 Gallery of Courage are sending a message, loudly and clearly, that the life–saving power of early detection is our best protection and that life is not over after a diagnosis of breast cancer. These courageous women are living testimony that a woman can beat breast cancer and live a productive life when the disease is detected and treated early."
Dr. Novello said that it is imperative for women to seek breast cancer screening. Statistics have shown that many women avoid screening because they are afraid to find out they have cancer; others may not know how to go through the screening process; others do not know how they will pay for it. The result is a potentially deadly delay in treatment that becomes a vicious cycle, where not only the woman but the family suffers as well.
Dr. Novello said, "This Governor and this Health Commissioner will not tolerate delays. New York is a leader when it comes to providing care to women with breast cancer. Governor Pataki's support of the breast cancer tax checkoff, new mobile mammography units, Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act and the External Appeals law are indicative of our efforts to help you beat the dreaded disease of breast cancer."
Sue Anne Fusco of Albany, a breast cancer survivor honored at today's event, shared her feelings on her diagnosis, "When I was diagnosed with breast cancer I thought my life was over. I am now a three–year survivor. I have learned that there is life after breast cancer, and I now embrace my life with the faith, hope and courage to overcome any obstacle with an open mind and heart. With early detection we can become stronger, healthier and wiser; we can win."
Schenectady native and Gallery member Alice Renna said, "I found a lump and sank. My heart thumped and I was scared. I called the family health services in my area and received immediate and effective health care. Through the support of my doctor, family and friends I rose to a new vision, new hope, new love and new life."
Approximately 175,000 Americans are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and nearly 44,000 die. To provide women with additional preventive care, New York has established Healthy Women Partnerships statewide to reach women who are at risk of breast cancer, but who normally would not seek screening because they lack health insurance. The programs help reduce financial barriers to screening, diagnosis and treatment and address apprehension about the disease.
Mary Ann Graves of Chautauqua County said, "Fear is a woman's worst enemy. Fear prevents us from being, doing and achieving. The Gallery of Courage will help alleviate the fears that some women have, while motivating others to cope with their diagnosis and seek appropriate health care to fight the disease. Today's exhibit teaches us an enormous amount about the courage of others and their will to live."
The Gallery of Courage will remain on display on the Terrace Gallery level of the New York State Cultural Education Center through today. The exhibit will then move to the North Concourse level of the Empire State Plaza where it will be open to the public from October 8th through October 15th. Thereafter, the display will be used as a traveling exhibit statewide.