Breast cancer survivor helps patients with woodcraft

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OCOEE, Fla. — Some say not all heroes wear capes, but in the case of Pam Bozkurt, that’s true. She uses her spare time to spin a wooden wig stand and usually wears jeans, a T-shirt, and a face shield.


What you need to know

  • According to Dr. Nikita Shah, an oncologist at Orlando Heath, the cure rate for breast cancer is about 95% if detected early.
  • Breast cancer can manifest in many ways, including lumps, nipple discharge, and changes in skin color and texture.
  • Dr. Shah recommends three effective methods for early detection. These are monthly self-exams, annual exams by your health care provider, and annual mammograms.
  • Treatments for breast cancer range from surgery to chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Officials say treatment depends on detection and how advanced the cancer is.

Doctors diagnosed Bozkurt with breast cancer more than two years ago after a routine mammogram. Cancer runs in her family, with her sister and her aunt receiving similar diagnoses, but at her age, the news still caught her off guard.

“Many of the women diagnosed with breast cancer are younger than me,” Bozkurt said. “I was diagnosed at 66, so I thought, ‘No, this is not me.’”

She said she was lucky to catch it early and only needed minimal treatment, including a lumpectomy and radiation therapy.

“They said they were glad they didn’t have to undergo chemotherapy,” Bozkurt said. “So I just dedicated myself to the great doctors at the university.” orlando health

Just before his diagnosis, Bozkurt began learning how to turn wood. She said it started as a hobby for her during the coronavirus pandemic, but it quickly became her passion as she realized there were few rules and she could create beautiful things.

Bozkurt said that despite having to incorporate radiation treatments into his weekly routine, wood-turning actually helped him get through that difficult time without cancer.

“It should have happened, but it didn’t. It was good because I was depressed and the people I talked to were great, some of them knew what I was going through. “Some people were willing to help,” she said.

Bozkurt said she did not lose her hair because she did not receive chemotherapy, even though she was surrounded by other patients who experienced hair loss during radiation therapy.

As time passed and the treatment was over, the idea of ​​rotating a wooden wig stand came to mind.

She said she pitched the idea to several members of the Woodturning Club and once they agreed, she took the idea to her friends at Orlando Health. After getting the OK from the hospital, the project started and hasn’t stopped since then.

Bozkurt said she and other club members have donated dozens of wig stands between Orlando Health and, most recently, Advent Health.

“That’s something the club will continue to do,” Bozkurt said. “We will continue to donate.”

Dr. Nikita Shah, section leader for breast cancer oncology at Orlando Health, said because there are many different types of cancer and treatments, early detection is a patient’s best chance of survival. There is a 95% cure rate for women with monthly self-exams and yearly mammograms once they turn 40, or sooner if they are at high risk, Shah said.

But just as important as treating the body is treating the mind and the patient, Shah said, just as important to healing.

“Sometimes you’re just talking to someone who’s been through it.” [it]Who can reassure the patient, “Well, you may not be feeling well now, but in three months this condition will be better.” And I would look back and say, “Hey,” that wasn’t the worst thing I had to do. So just having all of these resources available makes a huge difference,” Shah said.

She says that in rare cases, men can also be diagnosed with breast cancer, so it’s important to know your body, follow recommendations for early detection, and know what you want. said.

“Breast cancer manifests as a lump in the breast, a discharge from the nipple, and a change in color or perhaps texture of the skin around the breast,” says Shah.

Although Bozkurt’s previous scans were clear, she credits early detection and getting through the diagnosis to her yearly mammograms, as well as the support of her woodworking club and family.



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