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Albany Med Today

Making Strides Together Against Breast Cancer

To support or walk in Making Strides, visit http://main.acsevents.org/goto/AlbanyMedicalCenter

Barbara Smith, RN, and Theresa Weinman share a passion for spreading the word about early detection of breast cancer.

Smith knows first-hand. Not only does she see dozens of breast cancer patients a month as a certified breast navigator at the Breast Care Center, but last January she was diagnosed with the disease.

Her diagnosis came out of the blue. Because she has dense breast tissue, Smith had tomosynthesis. Albany Med was the first in the region to have this very advanced technology, and Smith was on the team that advocated for this powerful three-dimensional imaging.

“Little did I realize that nine months after Albany Med put this lifesaving technology to work, it would save my life,” she explained. “At my annual screening mammogram, I had ‘tomo,’ which showed an abnormality that didn’t show up on my mammogram.”

A biopsy revealed it was stage 1 invasive breast cancer. She had a lumpectomy and radiation, but because it was detected early, she didn’t have to have chemotherapy or a mastectomy.  “If we didn’t have this technology, my mammogram next year most likely would have showed a much larger tumor that would have not had such a good outcome,” she said.

Weinman, an administrative coordinator in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Albany Medical College, lost her best friend to breast cancer, watched a close family member  pull through it, supported another co-worker through chemotherapy and radiation, and has had several scares herself.

“For me, it seems there is no escaping it. Fortunately, we have an exceptional resource — the Breast Care Center on the South Clinical Campus,” she said. “Once, within 10 minutes of receiving word I needed a lumpectomy, I was surrounded by an amazing team. They provided exceptional care. I was reeling, but I had information before I could even think to ask for it. They answered my questions and encouraged more.

“And when they saw how worried I was, they squeezed me in so I wouldn’t have to wait eight days for the results of my biopsy.”

Fortunately, those results were negative, but with the high incidence of breast cancer in her family, Weinman has an MRI and mammogram scheduled annually.

"Early detection is critical,” stressed Smith, who with Weinman, is co-captaining Team Albany Med for “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer,” the American Cancer Society’s annual walk — the largest in the region — to highlight the importance of early detection and raise research funds. It will be held Sunday, Oct. 20 in Washington Park in Albany.
With the commitment of Smith and Weinman, Albany Med will walk together as one big team, proudly wearing their Team Albany Med T-shirts.

“We’re working to build our largest team ever,” Weinman said. “After all, Albany Med has a great story to tell. I and many others can attest to that.”