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When All Things Work Together in the Fight Against Breast Cancer

The community comes together each year for ARHS Pink Day to encourage survivors, schedule mammograms and raise support for cancer programs in the High Country.
Few things in life are more unifying than a breast cancer diagnosis. Of course, the diagnosis itself is devastating, but it also has a way of bringing family, friends and medical staff together in unexpected and life-changing ways.
At Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS), patients have come to expect and appreciate the family first team approach used to diagnosis and treat breast cancer right here in the High Country. Thanks to advanced technology, a collaborative medical community, innovative surgical techniques, and a first class regional cancer center located right here in our backyard, patients are choosing now more than ever to stay in our community for their cancer treatment.

Advanced Technology

Early detection is imperative in the fight against breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, the size of the breast cancer and how far it has spread are some of the most important factors in predicting the prognosis – outlook – of a woman with this disease.
Fortunately, The Wilma Redmond Breast Center in Boone, NC, is equipped with best in breast diagnostic services. Designed with the patient in mind, The Breast Center offers patients a convenient and comfortable location for their mammogram appointments.

What is 3D Mammography?

With a traditional mammogram, radiologists were tasked with reading the complexities of the breast in a flat image. 3D Mammography builds images into very thin layers, or slices, making details more clear and unobstructed by overlapping tissue.
Because 3D Mammography allows the radiologist to better assess the size, location and shape of any abnormal tissue, more cancers are found at earlier, more treatable stages. It also reduces the chance of a false positive resulting in further imaging. Learn more about mammography and breast health >

Collaborative Approach

According to the National Cancer Institute, one-in-eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. After the initial shock, these women tend to all voice the same next question, “Now what?” In these moments of uncertainty, local patients and their families are encouraged to learn that even in our small mountain community there exists a robust team of medical providers ready to join in the fight.
At ARHS all cancer cases are brought before the Tumor Board at Watauga Medical Center. The Tumor Board, which meets weekly to discuss cases, consists of a radiologist, pathologist, several surgeons from Watauga Surgical Group, as well as the Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center’s medical oncologists, radiation oncologist, nurse navigator, and other Cancer Center team members. Together, they review each patient’s case to create a comprehensive treatment plan.
“Observing the Tumor Board for the first-time from a patient’s perspective was very humbling,” said Dr. Anne-Corinne Beaver, a breast cancer surgeon, survivor, and Tumor Board member. “It is hard to articulate just how much professional collaboration goes into the specifics of each treatment plan outlined right here in Boone. What patients may not realize is that we meet like this for each and every case and twice for breast cancer cases [before and after surgery] to carefully determine next steps.”

Hidden Scar® Breast Cancer Surgery

If surgery is recommended, patients can take comfort in the fact that Watauga Medical Center is one of only a few hospitals in North Carolina to offer Hidden Scar® Breast Cancer Surgery. Both Dr. Anne-Corinne Beaver and Dr. Paul Dagher of Watauga Surgical Group have been recognized as Hidden Scar® Trained Surgeons for Hidden Scar® Breast Cancer Surgery.
Hidden Scar® Breast Cancer Surgery allows Dr. Beaver and Dr. Dagher to remove the cancerous tissue through a single incision made in a hidden area, preserving the natural shape of the breast while reducing visible scarring. Patients who undergo this approach experience optimal clinical and cosmetic outcomes, and are at no higher risk of recurrence than patients who undergo any other surgical technique.1
“Survivors tend to worry about how their body will look [post-surgery] and how that might affect their confidence moving forward,” said Dr. Beaver. “Fortunately, thanks to this advanced surgical technique, we are able in most cases to hide the scar and with it remove the reminder of breast cancer for our patients.”

Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center

Cancer Center linear accelerator 4As part of the treatment plan patients may also be referred to the Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center in Boone, NC. For more than 25 years, the Cancer Center has offered patients in the High Country the best in medical oncology and radiation oncology services.
“Typically, patients in need of either chemotherapy or radiation treatment will be required to have regular treatment appointments for an extended period of time,” said Dr. Beaver. “As you can imagine, this can take a toll not only on the patient, but also on their family. By having a top tier regional cancer center right here in Boone, these patients can stay close to home without having to travel off of the mountain for their treatment.”

What is the Navigation Team?

The Navigation Team was established a few years ago to help patients cope with their diagnosis and settle into their treatment routine at the Cancer Center. At no additional cost, each patient is encouraged to meet with the four member navigation team, which includes a social resource navigator, a counseling navigator, a financial navigator and a nurse navigator. Each navigator works with the patient to identify and break down barriers to care.
The Cancer Center also offers several support groups to provide both patients and caregivers with a safe and comfortable space to meet with others who “know what it’s like.” Learn more about the Expressions Art Studio, Relax and Feel Radiant program, the Gentle Yoga class or the online support group >

Together We Fight

This year, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) along with many other High Country businesses and organizations, have adopted a new Together We Fight approach to breast cancer.
The collaborative approach took shape after several community organizations discussed ways to join forces to support breast cancer patients on a local level. Learn more about the Together We Fight collaborative and upcoming community events >
“I can testify as both a surgeon and as a survivor that this community is All In when it comes to fighting breast cancer,” said Dr. Beaver. “I chose to stay close to home for my breast cancer treatment because I know just how good the treatment services are right here in this community.”
To learn more about breast cancer services at Appalachian Regional Healthcare System visit apprhs.org/cancer