Learning you have cancer can be overwhelming – leaving you feeling frightened, vulnerable and alone. The 4th Angel Mentoring Program offers free, one-on-one, confidential outreach and support from someone who has successfully made the same journey. Scott Hamilton, Olympic gold medalist and cancer survivor, and Your Care Everywhere‘s Daniel Hart joined us on a recent episode of Community Health Matters to discuss the life-changing program. View their segment here.


Approximately 39.6 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes, according to the National Cancer Institute. After diagnosis, there are often three groups of people who are “angels” in your life: your oncologist, your oncology nurse and your friends and family. The 4th Angel Program matches you to a specially trained volunteer and cancer survivor who becomes your fourth “angel” to provide support in your journey to recovery.


4th Angels have insights in a way no one else can, having experienced all of the ups and downs of cancer firsthand that allows them to best empower their mentees with knowledge, awareness and hope. The program is telephone-based, allowing connections to form anywhere in the country with mentors and mentees paired as closely as possible with respect to diagnosis, gender and age.


To be matched with an angel through the program, you simply need to submit a request through the 4th Angel Mentoring Program website and complete a brief phone interview. Any adult with cancer or who is caring for a person with cancer is eligible to be matched with a mentor.


For more information on the 4th Angel Mentoring Program, visit 4thAngel.org.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Dr. Laura Lawson, medical director of the Saint Thomas Health Services Breast Cancer Program, joined us on a recent episode of Community Healthy Matters to discuss early diagnosis and treatments. View her episode clip here.

A common misconception of breast cancer is that it’s a death sentence. Dr. Lawson wants women to know that couldn’t be further from the truth. Breast cancer cases diagnosed at stage zero or stage one have a five-year survival rate of approximately 100 percent. Cases diagnosed at stage two have a survival rate of almost 90 percent. And cases diagnosed at stage three have a survival rate of around 75 percent. Clearly, early detection is key.

As a leader in breast cancer care, Saint Thomas advocates for early detection and offers many programs to help women access resources, including mobile mammography units. Its program is one of the largest breast cancer programs in the state, treating one-fourth of all breast cancers diagnosed or treated in Tennessee.

It’s also important to note that not all breast abnormalities should be a source of alarm. Many common problems including redness, nipple discharge, density of breast tissue or even presence of a tumor can be benign and harmless. But the best rule of thumb is to take note of anything out of the ordinary and get it checked out.

It’s recommended women begin having mammograms at age 40 and then continue to get checked once a year after that. If you have a family history of breast cancer, your yearly mammograms should start 10 years before the youngest age that a family member was diagnosed.

For more information on breast cancer detection or treatment, visit STHealth.com or call 615-284-PINK.

U.S. women have a one in eight lifetime risk of getting breast cancer. Daveisha Moore, director of mission and education of Komen Central Tennessee, joined us on a recent episode of Community Healthy Matters to discuss disparities in breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and mortality. View her segment here.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It is estimated that in 2016, more than 40,000 women will die from breast cancer. For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer except for lung cancer.
Susan G. Komen’s mission is to decrease breast cancer deaths by 50 percent in the next 10 years. One-third of current deaths could have been prevented by an earlier diagnosis. Komen Central Tennessee, which serves 25 counties in middle Tennessee, aims to address the disparity between diagnosis and treatment by educating women.
Some women delay getting a mammography screening due to fear, lack of access to care, cultural and language differences, lack of childcare or an inability to take time off work. Komen is breaking down these barriers by teaching signs and symptoms and connecting people to resources in the community.
If you notice any of the physical signs and symptoms of breast cancer, such as redness, swelling, nipple discharge or lumps in the breast tissue, consult a physician.
For more information on breast cancer, visit KomenCentralTennessee.org or call (615) 383-0017.

Male Breast Cancer

Did you know breast cancer in men is rare, but does happen? Breast cancer survivor and author Dr. Wayne Dornan joined us on a recent episode of Community Healthy Matters to discuss what you need to know about male breast cancer. View his interview here.

At the time of Dr. Dornan’s diagnosis in 2008, he had no idea men could get breast cancer, too. Since, he has become a passionate advocate for both men and women with cancer and wrote his book “How I Survived Breast Cancer: An Inspirational Journey of Hope and Fact” to remedy the lack of information available particularly regarding breast cancer in men.
Though only one percent of all breast cancer cases in the U.S. occur in men, the American Cancer Society estimates 2,600 men will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and about 440 men will die from the disease this year.
In both men and women, diagnosis of breast cancer at an early stage is key. Most men aren’t aware they can get the disease so, by the time they seek medical attention, their stage is higher and their prognosis may be poor. Dr. Dornan points out that men have breasts, too, and if you have breasts, you can get breast cancer.
Men’s risk of breast cancer is so low that mammograms are not routinely recommended. That’s why it’s important to understand for men to understand their family history and the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. Just like women, men have an increased risk of developing breast cancer if they have a family history of the disease. Other symptoms include:

  • A lump or swelling, which is usually painless
  • Skin dimpling or puckering
  • Nipple retraction or inversion
  • Redness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin
  • Discharge from the nipple

Though breast cancer is a frightening diagnosis, more individuals than ever are surviving the disease – it is certainly not a death sentence, as many fear. Thanks to advancements in medicine, there are many different medications and treatment options available.

Learn more about Dr. Dornan’s inspirational story of survival by visiting HowISurvivedBreastCancer.com.

Did you know indoor tanning dramatically increases the chance of developing skin cancer?

Indoor tanning exposes users to two types of ultraviolet rays, UVA and UVB, which damage the skin and can lead to cancer. Exposure to indoor tanning, particularly in adolescence, increases the chances of developing skin cancer over a lifetime. According to a recent study, people who use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma by 75 percent.

In addition, indoor tanning causes premature skin aging, like wrinkles and age spots, changes your skin texture and increases the risk of eye disease.

For more information about the dangers of indoor tanning, visit www.skincancer.org

Did you know sunscreens offer varying levels of protection against skin cancer?

Using sunscreen is an important way to protect your skin from the harmful ultraviolet radiation that causes skin cancer, but some sunscreens provide better protection than others. A sunscreen’s SPF – or Sun Protection Factor – is a measure of its ability to prevent UVB rays from damaging the skin. The higher the SPF number, the longer the sunscreen should protect you against sunburn.

The CDC recommends using sunscreen with an SFP of 15 or higher that both UVA and UVB protection – even on cloudy or cool days.

For more information on skin cancer prevention, visit www.skincancer.org/prevention.

May is Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. On the show today, Dr. Lorien Sites from Saint Thomas Health and Nashville Skin & Cancer talks about preventing and detecting skin cancer. Kirk Pion  from the UnitedHealthcare Innovation Centers of Excellence talks about tips and resources for caregivers. Audiologist Diane Nens discusses the importance of hearing health care and how hi HealthInnovations is providing access and affordability to help more people with hearing loss.

The prospect of a cancer diagnosis is scary for anyone – even someone with a medical background. Dr. Michelle Fiscus shares her personal experience with cancer and what she learned that may help other cancer patients with their own journeys.

Tennessee ranks 43rd for overall health when compared with other states according to the most recent America’s Health Rankings Annual Report. Dr. Karen Cassidy, Medical Director for UnitedHealthcare in Tennessee, talks about where Tennessee is making progress – and where our biggest health challenges still lie.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. for both men and women. Doctor of Cardiology Fayaz Malik discusses heart health and how you can lower your risk of heart disease.

A cancer diagnosis is scary for anyone to receive – even someone with a medical background. Dr. Michelle Fiscus shares her personal experience with breast cancer and what she learned that may help other cancer patients with their own journeys.