Guest Speaker Talks to Parents about Breast Cancer

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The parents at P.S. 5 Ellen Lurie School, a Children’s Aid Society Community School in Washington Heights, received a serious wake-up call last week. The School-Based Health Center staff surprised them with a special guest speaker. Marlene Pérez (pictured in the center), a young woman battling breast cancer, paid a visit to the school’s early morning PTA meeting on Thursday May 19th to talk about this devastating disease. At the age of 26, Ms. Pérez was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and later opted to have a double mastectomy out of fear of eventually succumbing to the disease. She has lost a grandmother and aunt to breast cancer.

For many of the women in attendance, the majority of whom were of Hispanic descent, this discussion was a welcome opportunity to ask the often uncomfortable questions that have been on their minds. For a few, it was a moment to share their own fears and to receive assurance that seeing a medical professional is ultimately the right choice. Graciously, Marlene encouraged any and all questions and put a lot of myths related to breast cancer to rest. Among these was, “can I get breast cancer while breast feeding?” asked by a young mother who revealed she recently noticed a lump she never had before. The main theme throughout the morning was how important it is to stick to regular exams, both at the doctor’s office and self-exams, and to be proactive about one’s own health. Ms. Pérez encouraged all of the women to “go to the doctor, get yourself checked out.” Early detection can ultimately be a lifesaver.

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