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Continuum of Care

Those attending the “Voices of the Valley” conference visit one of 26 vendors set up at last weekend’s event in Roanoke Rapids. Staff Photo by Amanda VanDerBroek

ROANOKE RAPIDS – The Roanoke Valley Breast Cancer Coalition proved to be successful with their first conference held here.

Last Saturday, “Voices of the Valley”: Patient-Provider Communication along the Breast Cancer Continuum in Northeastern North Carolina conference connected 300 women with vital breast health resources through out the region.

“I think the crowd that came showed the need in the area,” said RVBCC Chair Dr. Pudden Gorlesky.

The RVBCC, which covers Northampton and Halifax counties, aims to positively impact the health status of women in the area, especially those who are medically underserved. The beginnings of the Coalition began in 2009 with Rural Health Group, who partnered with the Gregory B. Davis Foundation to pull together different resources.

The event featured speakers, including Dr. Keith Amos with the UNC Division of Surgical Oncology, along with 26 vendors in the region.

“The conference showed the resources in the area that matches the breast cancer continuum of care,” said Gorlesky. “The idea was to educate and to bring together resources women may not be aware of.”

The breast cancer continuum of care is major objective for RVBCC and involves:

Risk assessment, where women are educated about breast cancer and they determine their risk;

Screening, where a woman gets her clinical breast exam and mammogram;

Diagnosis, where a woman’s breast condition is determined;

If diagnosed, the woman moves to survivorship where patients and providers are connected;

The last stage is quality of life cycle which focuses on the quality of care at that stage, and also brings in family members and community support.

Conference attendees heard from Dr. Amos during a keynote address along with Penny Hearn, with the Nash Breast Care Center, Dianah Bradshaw with the NC Division of Public Heath Cancer Prevention and Control Branch, Ericka Griffin with the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, Chanchamma Thannikary with the Roanoke Valley Cancer Center and Shirley McFarlin with Nash Healthcare Systems during break out sessions.

Ethel Morehead of Greensboro said she heard about the conference through her friend, Stephanie Tillery.

“It’s been wonderful and very informative; I just had a diagnosis in my family,” she said.

Morehead said she enjoyed listening to Amos, who shared breast cancer statistics, information about high risk factors and prevention.

“I hope to go back home and share this information with my family and friends,” she said.

At the conference the coalition also announced the RVBCC Warmline where women can call and get information about services and providers along the continuum. The number to the warmline is (252) 519-1000.

Gorlesky said informal feedback on the event has been very positive.

“We’ve had several requests to have it again,” she said. “We’re looking at the possibility of doing it again next year. However, the board has not made that decision yet.”

“Voices of the Valley” was made possible through Morehouse School of Medicine’s Southeastern U.S. Collaborative Center of Excellence in the Elimination of Disparities (SUCCEED) and Komen Foundation Triangle to the Coast in partnership with the Rural Heath Group Inc.