Growing out of need identified by Dr. Virginia E. Maurer in her breast surgery practice, the Maurer Foundation for Breast Health Education has a clear vision. Different, the Maurer Foundation focuses totally on educating women of all ages about breast health. Starting with a proper diet, the foundation moves into areas such as self-examination and the dispelling of myths.
There are three myths the foundation, through the guidance of Dr. Maurer, has attempted to set aside. First, "I'm too young to get breast cancer." This is not the case at all. There seems to be a downward trend in age at this time because of better detection techniques. Improved and earlier detection means a stronger chance for survival.
Second, "No one in my family had breast cancer so I won't get it." Again, nothing but a myth. In fact only 25 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history.
Third, "But I have a normal mammogram." Mammograms can miss between 12 and 17 percent of breast cancers. Mammograms are important, but monthly self-exams and clinical breast examinations have to be an essential segment of any early detection program. All three elements are critical.
As a part of the education focus of the foundation, staff members regularly reach out to high school juniors and seniors. Over 5,000 students participate in the program each year. The 40 minute class covers lifestyle, healthy foods, self-examination and takes on the breast cancer myths. Students are also urged to take the message home to their mothers.
Another ongoing program is the outreach to adult women through community organizations. Teaching about lifestyle changes that can lower the chances for breast cancer, the classes are highly interactive church groups, PTAs, corporate luncheon groups and community centers are places where the message has been taken by the Maurer Foundation.
Finally, the foundation runs a Breast Health Training and Certification Program. The training, conducted by Maurer Foundation staff, takes 20 hours. In order to be sure that each certified educator is up to date, there is an annual recertification process.
In addition to the outreach, you can visit the foundation on the World Wide Web at www.maurer-foundation.org. The site is set up as a virtual classroom with tips on diet, exercise and self-exams. There are also scheduled chat rooms with a breast health specialist.
Patricia Chambers Daly, executive director of The Maurer Foundation, leads the organization's dedicated staff. If you have any questions about the foundation or would like to have a breast health specialist address your group, you may call her at (800) 853-LEARN.