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Schilling educates women about breast cancer

Photo by Jason A. Smith
LaVetta Hudson (right), of McDonough, listened as mammographer, Janice Brown, talked with her about the importance of mammograms. Hudson was among those at an open house Thursday, at Schilling Women's Center and Schilling Medical Spa in Stockbridge.

Photo by Jason A. Smith LaVetta Hudson (right), of McDonough, listened as mammographer, Janice Brown, talked with her about the importance of mammograms. Hudson was among those at an open house Thursday, at Schilling Women's Center and Schilling Medical Spa in Stockbridge.

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

In celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, area residents were invited to learn more about a local doctor who specializes in caring for women.

Schilling Women's Center and Schilling Medical Spa, at 290 Country Club Drive in Stockbridge, hosted an open house Thursday. Those in attendance received information about breast health, mammograms and related care options.

The facility is named for Dr. John Schilling, an obstetrician and gynecologist who has operated his private practice since 2005. He said the occasion enabled him to educate the public, regarding the dangers of breast cancer.

"I don't think they realize how easy it is to pick up, and how terrible it is if it's diagnosed late," he said. "I think that all physicians in the preventive medicine specialty of gynecology ... try to make the point that we don't have a cure for breast cancer, yet. We don't have a way to prevent it. But early detection is where we save lives."

The doctor said people who visited his business, were also given the opportunity to meet people who have struggled with breast cancer in the past.

"We have some of my own patients who have been breast-cancer survivors, to show the community and all our [other] patients how important it is to be aware of breast cancer," said Schilling. "A lot of people will put off screening exams because of budget, and stuff like that. We say that should go to the top of the list, not the bottom."

Debbie Spriggs, spa coordinator at Schilling Medical Spa, said Dr. Schilling is also working with Henry Medical Center, for an event geared to reaching more women with the message of breast-cancer awareness.

"We know that there are women out there that really can't afford to have [a mammogram] done, so we're working in conjunction with Henry Medical," said Spriggs. "On Oct. 26, they're actually going to be doing some free mammograms, if [women in attendance] qualify."

Dr. Ruth Sarmiento, a blood and cancer specialist in Jonesboro, who came to assist Schilling during the open house, said she agreed with him regarding the crucial nature of regular breast exams and mammograms. "Breast cancer is completely curable, if it is caught early," Sarmiento said. "Unfortunately, many women wait. They're afraid ... of what they might find. Instead, they should be afraid of what cancer can do to them."

Sarmiento's daughter, Hannah Grace Branham, accompanied her mother to the open house. The 15-year-old said she is already aware of the need for regular checkups.

"It's a really important thing for females as they get older, because breast cancer really is a big problem in the United States," Branham said. "Early detection can really help."

A portion of funds raised at the open house -- through donations and the sale of pink T-shirts -- was designated for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, according to Denise Fogle, clinical coordinator for Dr. Schilling.

Janice Brown, a registered mammographer in Dr. Schilling's office for nearly 11 years, before moving to Tennessee, said she came back to Georgia this week, to counsel women about breast cancer. Brown said despite a wealth of educational outlets with information on the disease, some women continue to be uneducated about options for removing breast cancer.

"A lot of women will look at breast cancer, still, as a stigma," she said. "It's one of those things where, if they feel something, they don't want to know what it is. That's where we try to educate [them], that now there are so many advances."

Brown added that all women, regardless of their age, should take steps to monitor their breast health. "These days, we are discovering that more women are developing breast cancer, younger and younger," she said. "It's really very important for women to get their mammograms, and not just take a chance, and say it will go away. Most mammograms can detect a breast lump up to two years before the patient or the doctor can actually feel it. Two years can make a big difference."

Deborah Pristach, a nurse practitioner for Dr. Schilling, said she and her co-workers strived during the open house to promote healthy lifestyles for women. A lack of healthy living, she said, can lead to cancer in varying forms.

"We really do care about our patients," said Pristach. "We're putting this event on to have patients take control of their own health. They are the best advocates.

LaVetta Hudson, of McDonough, became Schilling's patient over the summer, and said she appreciates his caring staff. Hudson said they helped her to make the decision to schedule a mammogram. "They subsided my fears, because I had someone tell me that mammograms hurt," she said. "I was avoiding getting it done, but they were so patient with me, telling me what to expect. So, I said I'm going to go ahead and get my mammogram done, because I need to know."

Sponsors for the open house included Kroger, Bliss in McDonough, and Willett Honda South in Morrow, according to Spriggs.

For more information, visit www.schillingwomenscenter.com.