New equipment, services at BreastCare Center offer better chance for survival
The anonymous donors who contributed $1 million to help open the BreastCare Center at Yavapai Regional Medical Center East two years ago have struck again. A second generous donation from the local couple, combined with finding a good deal, brought an MRI machine to the Center three years ahead of schedule.
The BreastCare Center anticipated acquiring the machine within five years of opening in 2011; it purchased the MRI this year in May.
"This is the only breast-dedicated MRI in Arizona," said Nancy Ledoyen, clinical navigator at the Center.
Patients enter the machine feet first - those with claustrophobia can tolerate it better, she said. It provides a small space in which physicians have to work, and is not recommended as a screening tool.
"Mammograms are still the first standard," Ledoyen said, adding that an MRI would be advised for young women at high risk in order to reduce radiation throughout a lifetime of breast cancer checkups.
In addition to breast MRIs, the BreastCare Center, at 799 E. Florentine Road, provides diagnostic services with digital mammography, breast ultrasound, fine needle and core needle biopsy, and ductogram. The Center also offers education, care coordination, resource library, gift shop, and support.
Several goals were set forth at the time it opened; one was to provide flexible hours for appointments. Ledoyen said appointment times are driven by need, and most women request early morning times. Tuesdays offer the latest appointments at 4:30 p.m.
Another goal was to provide transportation for doctor's appointments and treatment. The American Cancer Society is helping with this effort, but the most challenging endeavor is for patients undergoing radiation treatment.
"This is the most critical transportation need because the appointments are daily for several weeks. We are always looking for volunteer drivers," Ledoyen said.
Offering support groups is another goal Ledoyen has accomplished. She said one in four breast cancer patients will suffer from post traumatic stress after diagnosis, and a support system can help deal with issues throughout diagnosis, treatment and health management.
"It's not the answer for everybody," she said. "This is a highlight for some. Isolation is a common issue and this offers a sense of camaraderie."
The support group consists of members who are starting treatment, in the middle, and who have finished treatment. It offers resources, personal support, information on counseling, healthy outlets for emotions, and more.
Ledoyen's job as "navigator" means she guides, educates and counsels patients and their families through testing, diagnosis and treatment. She also works up a personal history through a computer "modeling" program that inputs history, hormone exposure (age at menstruation and menopause, childbirth), pedigree, and personal risk factors. The result is a 10-year risk factor as compared to the average population, and a lifetime risk factor for acquiring cancer.
"When someone asks, 'What do I do?' we can give a lot of different strategies. Sometimes there's an 'aha moment' when they say, 'Oh, I've been thinking about making changes in my diet,' or 'I've been wanting to exercise more,'" she said about creating healthier lifestyles.
"Until you need (breast care services), it's not on your radar," Ledoyen said. "And many people still don't know it's here."
For more information, call the BreastCare Center at (928) 442-8900. To find out more about the support group, call Nancy Ledoyen at (928) 442-8647.