When volunteer Joanne Bentley rings up a breast-cancer magnet or a “think pink” shirt on the register at Sun Health’s Banner Del E. Webb Gift Shop, she stands behind those purchases in more ways than one.
Nearly 13 years ago, the Surprise resident underwent a mastectomy after a yearly exam by her doctor revealed three suspicious areas in her right breast. While it was possible they were typical calcium deposits, sometimes these calcifications can indicate breast cancer.
“He had told me it was probably nothing, but to be on the safe side, I should have a biopsy,” said Bentley, now 70. “He told me only 2 percent of these came back malignant.
“Then, when the results came in, what do you know? He told me I was in that 2 percent.”
Some of Bentleys' friends had lumpectomies, only to discover their cancer returned. So she made the decision to remove the affected breast, following up with reconstructive surgery.
“To me, it was no decision,” she said. “I knew my doctor well enough to know that, if it needed to come off, that’s what had to happen.”
In February 1998, Bentley underwent the procedure. To this day, she remains cancer-free and says she never has regretted her decision.
“Vanity doesn’t count when it comes to breast cancer,” she said. “I feel lucky every day to be here.”
She also appreciates giving her time in a gift shop that sells items in support of breast-cancer survivors. In addition to pendants, plants and purses, there are socks, manicure sets, “bling”-bedecked visors and many more “think pink” items carried not only by Sun Health’s gift shop at Banner Del E. Webb in Sun City West but also by its sister shop within Banner Boswell Medical Center in Sun City.
“We’re particularly active in October – and, of course, that’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” Bentley said. “One time, we ran low on items and people definitely said something.
“It’s an important cause to stand behind.”
With funding support from Sun Health Foundation, Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center recently purchased breast-specific gamma-imaging (BSGI) equipment. BSGI is a complementary diagnostic test for those women who have had questionable or inconclusive mammograms. It is a relatively new technique that helps physicians detect early stage cancers, even in dense breast tissue, scarred breast tissue or when implants are present. Because of its high rate of accuracy, BSGI can help patients avoid unnecessary biopsies and is sometimes used as an alternative to other imaging techniques such as MRI.
Bentley said she is pleased so many technologies supporting breast-cancer detection are available to women in her community.
“Early detection is the name of the game, so of course it’s great to have this at my neighborhood hospital,” she said. “In fact, I wish the technology would have been available when I needed it.
“Anything that can get somebody out of this mess that is cancer, I’m all for it.”