Westfield-Mayville Rotary Supports Early Breast Cancer Detection with Recent Donation of Items to Westfield Memorial Hospital

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On Feb. 3 representatives of the Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club, Westfield Memorial Hospital (WMH), and WMH Foundation met at the hospital in Westfield, NY to review breast cancer education items which were funded by this Rotary club and its Rotary District 7090 grant. Present were (left to right) James Wakeman, former Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club Foundation and District Grants Chair; John Hamels, Ph.D., Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club President; Karen Surkala, WMH President; Lara Whitesell, WMH Radiology Supervisor; and Patricia Gaughan DiPalma, WMH Foundation Executive Director. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO #0629 TAKEN BY SUE HAMMOND

WESTFIELD, NY – Representatives of the Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville and the Allegheny Health Network / Westfield Memorial Hospital (AHN/WMH) gathered in the mammography suite of AHN/WMH in Westfield, NY on Feb. 3 for a presentation of items provided by this Rotary club for the hospital staff to use with some of its patients. Specifically, the contributions included two sets of three breast self-examination (BSE) models, and 1,000 shower cards which provide BSE instruction and information.
Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club representatives included John Hamels, Ph.D., Club President; Sue Hammond, Club Public Relations Chair; and James Wakeman, former Club Foundation Chair and District Grant Chair. The three developed the grant concept after consulting with WMH officials. Hammond and Wakeman co-authored the Rotary District 7090 Grant to help fund the purchase of the items. The total value of the gifts to AHN/WMH is $1,882.99. Providing items to aid in the early detection of breast cancer is priceless.

Officials of AHN/WMH who were present to officially receive the Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club donations were Karen Surkala, AHN/WMH President; Lara Whitesell, WMH Radiology Supervisor; and Patricia Gaughan DiPalma, WMH Foundation Executive Director. Initial discussions about what items were needed by the hospital and those which the Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club and the Rotary District 7090 grant could support first began in Dec. of 2018 with the late Valarie Jackson, when she served as AHN/WMH President.

Upon receiving the BSE gifts to the hospital, current AHN/WMH President Karen Surkala stated, “The Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club is always looking for ways to improve the health of the community, and this is a great example of how partnerships can improve early detection and survivorship. Our hospital is grateful for all of the support and generosity of this club.”

“I, too, am very grateful to the Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club, which has been a great friend to the hospital foundation throughout the hospital’s 78-year history,” said WMHF Executive Director Patricia Gaughan DiPalma. “Rotarians, along with members of the community, led the charge to open the hospital’s doors in 1942, and they have been helping the hospital and the community ever since. For this, in addition to the Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club’s many other welcomed gifts to the hospital foundation, we will always remain grateful,” continued DiPalma.

“My staff and I are extremely thankful to the Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club for donating funds to our community hospital via the WMH Foundation,” said Lara Whitesell, WMH Radiology Supervisor. “This kind and generous gift allowed the WMH Radiology Department to purchase educational materials for our patients throughout the hospital’s 14 service areas. Our patients (the true benefactors of this grant) will now be provided with instruction on how to better perform self-breast exams,” explained Whitesell.
She continued, “According to the American Cancer Society, the goal of screening tests for breast cancer is to find it before it causes symptoms (like a lump that can be felt). Screening refers to tests and exams used to find a disease in people who don’t have any symptoms. Early detection means finding and diagnosing a disease earlier than if one waited for symptoms to start.”

Whitesell added that about 2,900 breast exams are conducted per year at WMH. The two BSE sets each have three different single breasts, each with various kinds and sizes of tumors and various external signs indicating malignant tumors. “WMH acquires approximately 100 new patients each year. Through the use of these BSE models, we will provide information to an estimated 2,400 patients per year,” said Whitesell.

Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club President John Hamels, Ph. D., stated, “The Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville is proud to provide these interactive models and shower cards to our community so that we can assist medical staff with teaching women and men how to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages. We strongly believe that through this Rotary District 7090 grant, we will save lives for many years to come.”

Hamels continued, “Rotary International has six main programs, two of which our donations today cover: ‘improving health through disease prevention and intervention’ and ‘improving the health of women and children.’ Women’s health has been identified as an underserved area in our community, and we hope this donation will go a long way to help. Breast cancer doesn’t distinguish women from men. Men should take advantage of these resources as well!”

According to the American Cancer Society, less than 1% of all breast cancers occur in men. However, men have a higher mortality rate than women do, mainly because males have less awareness about breast cancer. They are less likely to assume a lump is breast cancer, which can cause them to delay in seeking treatment.

About one in eight or 12% of U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer during the course of her lifetime. Breast cancer typically has no symptoms when the tumor is small and most easily treated. This is why screening is important for early detection. The most common physical sign is a painless lump. James Wakeman, former Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club Foundation Chair and District Grants Chair, served as the main author of the district grant application. After a lengthy review process by Rotary District 7090 District Grants Committee officials, the grant was approved. The Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club then provided funding for the purchase of the items by making two restricted donations to the WMH Foundation.

Wakeman stated, “Almost all of us know, or know of, someone who has been affected by breast cancer. It is our hope and expectation that the donation of these two sets of BSE models and the 1,000 shower cards with breast health and self-examination information will make a significant impact in the early detection of and treatment for breast cancer for individuals in our area.”

The Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville, which helped to establish the Westfield Memorial Hospital, is a proud supporter of this medical facility and the WMH Foundation. This Rotary club gratefully acknowledges all of the staff of AHN/WMH and WMH Foundation for the important work they do and for its partnership. Also, the Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville is thankful to Rotary District 7090 and its Grants Committee for endorsing this district grant and the related expenditures for items to promote breast self-examination education and breast cancer early detection.

CONTRIBUTED ARTICLE WRITTEN BY SUE HAMMOND & PATRICIA GAUGHAN DiPALMA