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Women’s Health Week: Breast Cancer Awareness

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“I think I heard the first two words, you know, that is was positive, and then it was a blur after that,” Pia Robinson said.

That diagnosis came a year and a half ago for the 50-year-old Weirton woman.

“Telling my family was really difficult,” Robinson said.

While in the shower, Robinson found a lump in her breast. She first received a misdiagnosis from a doctor in Pennsylvania, but trusted her gut and got a second opinion.

“They actually looked and saw that the lump was quite a bit more than what I was told at my previous appointments,” Robinson said.

Robinson is thankful she caught the cancer early, by being proactive.

“I did five and a half weeks of radiation, and it’s been a whirlwind since then,” Robinson said. “I'm doing great now and feeling really good.”

Robinson now proudly wears pink, shares her journey with others fighting the same battle and is grateful to her doctors at Weirton Medical Center.

Dr. Slomski, Robinson’s breast surgeon, says women typically avoid going to see specialists for two reasons. The first is fear.

“The treatment that we have now is so much better and more easily tolerated than what we had in the past,” Dr. Slomski said.

The second reason, Dr. Slomski said, is a fear of financial burden. However, Slomski says there are programs at WMC to help women receive the care they need.

As for the current guidelines on when and how often to get mammograms, doctors say that is changing.

In part, because of the number of the number of false positive readings, and the anxiety and stress that can bring.

“Each woman needs to think about that for herself, take into account her other risk factors, like having it in her family being overweight, sedentary, never have had children, or having a history of previous breast problems,” Dr. Slomski said. “Putting all of that together and certainly discussing that with her primary care physician, and coming up with a plan that's right for her.”

Right now, Weirton Medical Center is undergoing major construction on its new 5,000 sq. ft. breast care center which is slated to open in the next few months.

Meanwhile, doctors say there is work you can do on yourself.

“Just like we know that smoking is associated with lung cancer, obesity and lack of exercise are associated with breast cancer, so I if you can take a brisk walk-30 minutes a day 3 or 4 times a week you'll be doing a lot to lower your own risk,” Robinson said.

Dr. Slomski says women also need to be familiar with their breasts.

“Even if it is just looking at yourself in the mirror, to be sure you're not seeing anything. Any red spots. Any dimples. Any lumps,” Slomski said.

Slomski finds that women generally know when something is wrong with their bodies. The key is acting on it, as pia did.

“My family, My friends. I get emotional, but they were amazing,” Robinson said. “The love. The crying. The emotion. You have to soak it all in, but you have to appreciate every day,” Robinson said. “I think it's essential that you just keep that faith. Stay positive and just keep smiling, because that's what I do.”

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