SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Memorial Health University Medical Center hosted its first-ever Breast Cancer Community Resource Fair Friday morning.
Members of the community were invited to attend the free event, which ran from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The goal was to educate people, from breast cancer patients and survivors to caregivers and other members from the local area, to learn more about the many resources available for those affected by the disease.
“We did invite some of our survivors to talk to people about their experience with breast cancer and that they are survivors, and that breast cancer is a disease that people survive,” said Karen Terry, director of the Anderson Cancer Institute at Memorial Health.
Terry noted that although “cancer” is certainly a frightening word, Memorial Health has made great strides with the disease and the treatment of it.
“About 95 percent of early-stage breast cancer patients live past 5 years now,” Terry told News 3. “We’re very proud that we can be a part of healthcare that allows that to happen.”
Women who attended the event had the chance to learn about several services offered by the hospital, including their new high-risk women’s program.
“It is really about getting in front of the diagnosis of cancer, and identifying patients who are at higher risk of developing cancer over their lifetime so that we can offer them early protection, and in some cases, really preventative services so that hopefully, we don’t ever have to treat them for breast cancer or later-stage breast cancer,” Terry said.
One of those survivors who faced an elevated chance — 84 percent — of developing the disease was Joyce Williams, who founded the Keepers of the Flame online breast cancer community and resource center.
She attended the fair as a representative for her website.
“The whole idea is to connect women who are dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis with all the resources available so that they feel less alone,” Williams told News 3.
She has been a survivor for two years following a diagnosis with invasive ductal carcinoma in 2017 and subsequent 10-month treatment that she described as “intense.”
“I found out by happy accident that I had the BRCA2 mutation, so any and everything that you can do for breast cancer, I have done,” Williams said.
“Now that I’m on the other side of that, I don’t want anybody else to feel like they have to do it alone, because there is so much support out there, all you’ve gotta do is ask and know about it,” she added.
Williams said she likes to tell people that they can rise and stand up again after falling, but it’s key to keep in mind that people don’t ever fall in the first place.
“I’ve been trying to be completely authentic with my own journey because people would say, ‘Oh Joyce, you’re so strong,’” Williams said. “Well, I fell too. It hurts, and it’s hard, but we can rise up from those hardships.”