AVH staffers break out the ‘blinking bras’ | AspenTimes.com

AVH staffers break out the ‘blinking bras’

Jeanne McGovern/The Aspen TimesAspen Valley Hospital lead mammography technician Debbie DeMeulenaere shows off her Team Pink attire before Wednesday's full moon bike ride for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. DeMeulenaere, who organized the ride, helped collect and hand-decorate blinking "brassieres" and "man-ssieres" for all who want to join in.

ASPEN – Forget the Lycra bike shorts. Wednesday’s full moon bike ride for Breast Cancer Awareness Month is all about the bras.

“Blinking bras … Team Pink … that’s what we’re all about,” said Debbie DeMeulenaere, lead mammography technician at Aspen Valley Hospital. “This is all about raising awareness and having some fun.”

DeMeulenaere is leading the charge to have members of AVH’s mammography department and others pedal through Carbondale under the full moon in support of their cause. Women will wear decorated “brassieres,” and men will don similarly adorned “man-ssieres” (a bra worn backward). DeMeulenaere and her crew started showing off the unique bras – collected from local thrift shops and then hand-decorated – at this summer’s Race for the Cure; now people are asking to buy them.

“Every time we wear them people ask where they can get one,” she said, noting that some 50 people are expected to join in the ride, though everyone is invited. “They catch people’s attention, which is so important in the fight against breast cancer. All the work we do to raise awareness toward early detection is key.”

In fact, AVH’s mammography department does about 60 mammograms each week. The hospital works closely with breast radiologists from the Sally Jobe Breast Imaging Center for the interpretation of mammograms, ultrasounds, and MRIs; the local studies are electronically transmitted to Denver, and the readings are done right away, according to hospital spokeswoman Ginny Dyche. AVH also works with Community Health Services and the Komen Foundation, for both screening mammograms and other testing.

In addition, AVH has a registered nurse who is certified in oncology on staff in the mammography department. Judy Wilson reviews health histories with patients, calculates their lifetime breast cancer risk, and then helps them determine if genetic testing would be beneficial. In early 2012, Wilson will become a certified “breast navigator,” which means she be trained to help guide patients through the health care system after a positive biopsy.

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“The way we look at this is that mammography is the one specific modality we have to detect early breast cancer – and by early, I mean you cannot feel it with your fingers, and you are not symptomatic,” Wilson said. “And early detection is the name of the game.

“So all that we do – mammography, ultrasound, Sally Jobe – points to our commitment to breast health.”

And Wednesday’s full moon bike ride is no exception.

“We are doing this to create community awareness beyond our work environment, because breast cancer has no boundaries,” DeMeulenaere said.

jmcgovern@aspentimes.com