JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - An area hospital and bank have teamed up to help spread medical information about a disease that doctors say can have silent symptoms.
The 6th annual Teal Talk Luncheon took place on Wednesday at the Southwest Church of Christ in Jonesboro.
Director of Marketing for NEA Baptist, Danial Reed, said they hold this luncheon every year to inform the public.
"We do it to raise awareness," Reed said. "And to share the message about ovarian cancer. I know a lot of these women hear this message about the symptoms. They don't present themselves like other diseases do. It's something you have to really be knowledgeable about and have to look for."
Dr. Sanjeev Kumar, gynecologic oncologist at NEA Baptist Fowler Family Center, spoke to attendees at the luncheon.
Dr. Kumar specializes in treating women with cancer.
"Today, I'm going to talk to people about gynecologic cancers," Dr. Kumar said. "Which are cancers such as cancer of the ovaries, cancer of the endometrium, cancer of the womb, cancer of the vulva and other gynecologic organ cancers. Also, their treatment. How to detect them and how to treat them."
Assistant Vice President of Marketing and Business Development with First Security Bank Laura Bean said they were thrilled to help spread the message.
"First Security Bank is very happy to partner with the community and NEA Baptist," Bean said. "It's so important for all of our ladies to learn about the silent symptoms people have from ovarian cancer. They need to know what to look for. They need to know there's a support group here in town that can talk to them about these things."
"It's one of the major illnesses that affects the community," Dr. Kumar said. "If you don't detect it in a timely fashion and treat it correctly, then the prognosis becomes really, really poor. So, it's really important to spread awareness about this and to encourage people to come forward who may be affected so they can get the right kind of care."
Jonesboro resident Brenda Ward attended the luncheon.
Ward said she felt the luncheon was a great opportunity to get some additional information.
"I work at the cancer center and I volunteer several days a week and talk with cancer patients," Ward said. "And so, when my friend Janie asked me to come I thought it would be a good chance for me to learn a little bit more and talk to people."
Ward was both proud and thrilled to learn the event was free and open to the public.
"I think it's fantastic," Ward said. "The fact that it's free is even better. Cause you look around the room. A lot of us are older. Some of us may have deep pockets, but a lot of us don't."
Dr. Kumar said the problem with ovarian cancer is there are no obvious signs or symptoms.
In fact, many people mistake it for something else.
"Ovarian cancer does not have specific signs and symptoms," Dr. Kumar said. "You might see something like having nausea or vomiting or having a bloating in the belly. Having low-grade pain either in the belly or in the pelvis. Or just generally not feeling well. Then there are other things such as feeling full too quickly after eating. Having a family history. Like if mom or grandma had ovarian cancer or even breast cancer. In those families, ovarian cancer is more common. So, it's very helpful if people are aware of those things and can watch themselves closely. If you have any of these symptoms, seek the opinion of a physician."
Dr. Kumar also said there's some information out there that just isn't right.
"There are a lot of myths," Dr. Kumar said. "Myths such as if somebody has cancer, if they're trying to get surgery for cancer, does the surgery spread the cancer because it's exposed to air during the surgery? That is not true. Number two, the diagnosis of cancer means a death sentence. That is not true. There are a lot of very, very positive and encouraging treatments that are available for cancer."
Bean said each year they learn new and valuable information.
"It's a fun event," Bean said. "There's always great speakers. We learn something new every year from our doctors who speak. This year they're having a survivor's panel. I can't wait to hear from them. Learn what they've gone through and what their symptoms were. Education is the key to being proactive about our health. It allows us to watch out for ourselves, but also our loved ones."
Reed said they even added something new this year.
"We added a new section this year," Reed said. "We'll have actual patient stories. Women who have gone through the journey of ovarian cancer. Sharing what their symptoms were, what their treatment was like and other general messages for women."
Dr. Kumar said if he could get just one message across to people, it would be to get checked and seek medical care.
"The thing I would encourage people to do," Dr. Kumar said. "Is to seek the right care, specialist care. Especially, when you're seeking care with a cancer. Find out from your physician how experienced they are in treating that kind of cancer. So, that you can be directed to the right channels to seek the right care. A lot of the cancer treatment is very specialized. So, you want to receive care from people that are experienced and do this on a day to day basis. Cancer treatment is available. It has saved millions of lives. So, don't think a diagnosis of cancer is going to kill somebody. In fact, we can save lives. There are exciting treatments on the horizon. Please, come to us if cancer has been diagnosed."
For more information about the cancer care at NEA Baptist, click here.
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