The Prevent Cancer Foundation, in partnership with The National Museum for Women in the Arts, hosted the “Empowering Women on Prevention” panel on October 2. The lively discussion focused on empowering women and the steps they can take to reduce the risks of cancer. WUSA 9 TV anchor and Prevent Cancer sustaining board member Andrea Roane moderated the panel, that featured three amazing women who shared a wide spectrum of knowledge on women’s health issues and cancer prevention.
The panelists included physician, educator and breast cancer survivor Carolyn D. Runowicz, M.D., physician, health and wellness expert Ann Kulze, M.D. and entrepreneur, founder of Athena Water and breast cancer survivor Trish May. Held at the very beginning of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this discussion was especially timely as two of the panelists are breast cancer survivors themselves. Special guest singer Amy Grant also attended the reception and panel discussion.
Dr. Runowicz started the discussion with an oncologist’s perspective of prevention through chemopreventive drugs and essential screening. She provided a frank look at the importance of knowing your family history, risk factors for gynecological cancers and the need to educate yourself on the best prevention options. Touching on what has become something of a controversy as of late, the issue of mammography, Dr. Runowicz took a critical position on the media’s handling of the issue, saying that some members of the media promote the fear and anxiety associated with the procedure, flatly stating: “My patients can live with a little anxiety. They can’t live with a little cancer.”
Dr. Ann Kulze, affectionately known as “Dr. Ann” followed, leading the discussion on health and wellness. She began with the statistic that 70% of the cancer burden could be prevented through healthy eating, lifestyle changes and completing necessary and regular screenings. She went on to detail her eight steps for a healthy and cancer free life, which included tips like eating a plant based diet, limiting red meat, abstaining from tobacco and maintaining a healthy weight. She also brought up the dangers of prolonged sitting—encouraging the audience to get up often while at work.
Trish May then detailed her own battle with breast cancer—she was diagnosed right after her own mother had lost her battle with ovarian cancer. After finding a lump in her breast, she was told by not only one but two doctors that she was fine. After a persistent uneasy feeling, May insisted on advocating for her own health and got a biopsy. The lump had indeed turned out to be cancer. “I thought I was going to die like my mother,” said May. She resolved to take charge of her health and navigated her way through chemotherapy, recovery and eventually remission. She also founded her company, Athena Water, to celebrate the essence of life and other “warriors” who fight for breast cancer awareness.
The panel was extremely engaging and informative, with the panelists answering a variety of audience questions with a lively Q and A session. After the panel, attendees stayed and toured the “Women Who Rock” exhibit currently on display at the National Museum for Women in the Arts. The exhibit features clothing and other memorabilia from famous female musicians ranging from Tina Turner to Joni Mitchell to Lady Gaga.