Food for Thought The Healthcare News Launches Its Monthly Luncheon Series

Dr. Steven Schonholz is passionate about breast cancer screening, and also about numbers — some of them rather sobering.

Specifically, more than 182,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, and more than 40,000 die from the disease. Furthermore, many women carry a genetic marker called hereditary breast ovarian cancer syndrome (HBOC), which increases the risk of breast cancer from 2{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} in a 50-year-old woman to 50{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5}; by age 70, the risk rises to 87{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} for HBOC carriers.

Yet, only 3{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of women with a family history of breast cancer have undergone a simple, widely available blood test to let them know if they have the marker — knowledge that often leads to early, aggressive measures to prevent the disease.

Schonholz, medical director of Mercy Medical Center’s Breast Care Center, wants women to have this information so they can make informed decisions about their long-term health. He recently brought this message, and other breast-cancer information, to the kickoff gathering of Food for Thought, a new luncheon series sponsored by The Healthcare News.

The hour-long events, which are open to the public with advance registration, feature a buffet lunch at Pazzo at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, followed by an informal, engaging discussion by a local expert on an important health issue — all for $10 per person. Schonholz’ presentation well well-received in the packed room, said Kate Campiti, associate publisher of The Healthcare News.

“He was engaging, and it was intimate, conversational, and very educational, which is one of the key components,” she said. “We had a great turnout of more than 60 people, and the hour was a great success. We’re looking forward to doing one every month to bring this value to our readership.”

Each speaker showcased at Food for Thought will address a topic of relevance to health care professionals and the public alike. The second installment, on June 15, will feature Dr. Robert Robinson, clinical director of Family Care Counseling Associates Inc. His talk will be titled “Building Resilience Using Positive Psychology.” Lunch begins at 11:45 a.m., with Robinson speaking shortly after noon.

As for Schonholz, he mixed hard facts with encouragement, talking about how women have myriad options for fighting breast cancer, from bilateral mastectomies — which some who carry HBOC choose to undergo even before cancer shows up — to less-invasive lumpectomies followed by radiation. He insisted, however, that his job is not to tell women what to do when it comes to battling breast cancer, but rather to make sure they understand their options.

“If there’s something I can’t do, I’ll tell you, and I’ll make sure you have all the information, but you have to make the decision yourself,” he said.

It has to do with owning one’s own treatment at a time when the disease already has women feeling like they’re losing control.

“I’ve been told, ‘I am so glad that I was the one who made the decision. Up until that point, I felt like I had no control over what I was doing,’” he said.

Campiti said it just makes sense, in a region so rich in health care knowledge, to bring some of that to people in a casual, interactive setting, and the lunch hour seemed an ideal time.

“This is something we’ve been talking about for a while, bringing that added educational component to our readers while helping us make a connection with the community,” Campiti said.

To get on board for the June 15 luncheon, call Melissa Hallock at (413) 781-8600, ext. 10, or E-mail The deadline to register is June 12.

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