I had the privilege of volunteering at Maria Shriver’s The Modern House Call for Women on Saturday and Sunday. It was truly a pleasure working with all the other volunteers who shared my passion for helping women withtheir health care needs. The majority of the women I saw in the health care clinic hadn’t seen a doctor for years and were completely removed from any health care system. Most of them had no insurance and told me that they didn’t know where to go to see a physician.
I took care of a woman who was in her early 50s who had a very strong family history of breast cancer. Her maternal aunt and sister both had breast cancer. She had not had a mammogram in over ten years! Being a plastic and reconstructive surgeon and taking care of many breast cancer patients, I am especially passionate about early breast cancer detection. To have participated in the emotional and physical struggle of women undergoing surgery and treatment for this disease, I continually stress to women the importance of getting an annual mammogram and physical exam, as well as performing self breast exams. The fact that there was an on-site mammography station at The Modern House Call was truly a blessing for these patients. The women who attended The Modern House Call were able to get screening mammography immediately.
Similarly, women were able to get cervical cancer screening with the on-site Ob-Gyn physicians and nurses who performed pap-smears. In developing nations, cervical cancer is the leading cause of death in women – it is early detection that has improved the survival of women in the United States. Most of the women I saw at The Modern House Call had not had a pap smear for several years. I spent time educating them on the importance of an annual physical exam and annual pap-smear – something that no one had talked to many of them about before. The women were also able to get their blood sugar and blood pressure checked. However, one of the most valuable resources at The Modern House Call was the clinic referral program. Women were able to find local free clinics and make primary care appointments through the resources at The Modern House call so that they would be able to receive long term health care follow-up.
I truly believe that myself and the other volunteers were able to make a difference in the lives of many women who had no access to even the most basic health care. I was glad to be able to assist in providing basic health care screening that most of us take for granted. I feel blessed to have participated in this event and thank all the people who donated resources and time to help women who are truly in need.
Dr. Catherine Huang Begovic is a Plastic & Reconstructive surgeon in Beverly Hills CA and CEO of her cosmetic and plastic surgery practice Make You Perfect, Inc. She is also a board certified Head & Neck cancer and reconstructive surgeon. She is on the board of BeautyTV.