For Immediate Release October 10, 2022

Five people stand in front of a tree with pink ribbons hung on the branches to honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

At the kick-off ceremony last week for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, UM Shore Regional Health President and CEO Ken Kozel, far left, and Clark Comprehensive Breast Center Medical Director Roberta Lilly, MD, expressed appreciation to Board members of the Women and Girls Fund of the Eastern Shore Kathy Deoudes, President (right of Mr. Kozel), and Allison Prell (second from right) and Suze Chaffinch (far right) for the Fund’s grant of $20,000 benefitting the Breast Center’s Wellness for Women program.

Last week’s ceremony at the “pink ribbon tree” in the front entrance circle of UM Shore Medical Center at Easton marked the kickoff of University of Maryland Shore Regional Health’s annual celebration of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

UM SRH President and CEO Ken Kozel led the ceremony, providing recognition and thanks to staff and providers of the Clark Comprehensive Breast Center, the Cancer Center at UM Shore Regional Health, the Leh Women’s Center in Chestertown and UM Shore Medical Group – Women’s Health for their dedication to ensuring that women facing breast cancer in the five-county region have access to life-saving early diagnosis, state of the art treatment and social support strategies.

“Each year, this ‘pink ribbon tree’ – along with a variety of outreach events -- reminds our community of the importance of early and annual screening for breast cancer,” said Kozel.

A special highlight of the event was Kozel’s announcement of a generous grant of $20,000 from The Women & Girls Fund of the Mid-Shore, provided in celebration of the Fund’s 20th anniversary serving the needs of women and girls in Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties. The grant benefits the Clark Comprehensive Breast Center’s Wellness for Women Program, which provides outreach and financial support to help women in need get mammograms, now offered in Cambridge, Chestertown, Denton, Easton and Queenstown. “We are truly grateful for this support that helps us advance women’s health care and save lives throughout the region,” said Kozel.

“The Women & Girls Fund is so pleased to partner with UM Shore Regional Health to provide breast cancer screenings to women in our community,” said Kathy Deoudes, Women & Girls Fund Board member who also serves as Vice-Chair of the UM Shore Regional Health Board. “We could think of no better way to celebrate our 20th anniversary and honor our founder and donors who enable us to support these community initiatives.”

Roberta Lilly, MD, Medical Director of the Clark Comprehensive Breast Center, spoke about the progress made in breast care since the center was established in 2016. Dr. Lilly noted that since the Center’s opening, the number of exams provided to women and men with breast problems or breast cancer has increased by 85 percent, the number of mammograms performed has increased by 35 percent and the number of breast cancer cases diagnosed has increased by 34 percent. She also noted that while the rate of breast cancer in Talbot County is somewhat higher than the state average, the county’s death rate from the disease is lower – a testament to the benefits of accessible, comprehensive care and state-of-the art treatment.

“The ongoing efforts of our Breast Center and Cancer Center teams to provide advanced breast cancer care throughout the region are making a real difference,” Dr. Lilly said. “Over the next 15 years, as more of our community members move into age brackets in which breast cancer is prevalent, we anticipate that the number of new cases will rise by 50 percent. Today and every day, we dedicate our work to increasing public awareness of breast cancer risks, the importance of annual mammograms for women beginning at age 40, and providing comprehensive, compassionate care to our patients.”

Recognizing Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Kent County is planned as a joint initiative of the Chester River Health Foundation, the Rural Health Care Transformation Team, the Leh Women’s Center and the Mobile Wellness Team. The official kick-off event will be held at Memorial Park in Chestertown on Tuesday, October 11, 2022, at 12:15 p.m., in front of the “pink ribbon tree” selected with the help of the Chestertown Garden Club and decorated by Chestertown public works staff.