For Immediate Release October 06, 2023

Six people stand in front of a large tree with pink ribbons hung from its branches.

Kicking off October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, from left, are: Rashmi Benda, MD, Medical Director, Requard Radiation Center in the Cancer Center at UM Shore Regional Health; Bonna Nelson, breast cancer survivor; Roberta Lilly, MD, Medical Director, Clark Comprehensive Breast Center; Ken Kozel, UM Shore Regional Health President and CEO; Jo-Ayne Kerry-Turner, CRNP, Nurse Practitioner in the Breast Center; and Benjamin Bridges, MD, Medical Oncologist. 

The Clark Comprehensive Breast Center at University of Maryland Shore Regional Health (UM SRH) marked the beginning of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month with a brief ceremony in front of the “pink ribbon tree” in the front circle of UM Shore Medical Center at Easton.

The event was attended by providers staff members from the Cancer Center, the Breast Center and the hospital, as well as representatives from several community partner organizations. It began with welcoming remarks by Ken Kozel, UM SRH President and CEO, followed by a presentation on breast cancer rates and care provided by the Center’s Medical Director, Roberta Lilly, MD, and a testimonial by breast cancer survivor Bonna Nelson, of Oxford, Maryland.

In his opening remarks, Kozel thanked staff and providers of the Clark Comprehensive Breast Center, the Cancer Center and the Leh Women’s Center in Chestertown 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 programs provided by the Breast Center team around the region -- reminds our community of the importance of early, annual screening for breast cancer,” said Kozel.

Dr. Lilly offered several statistics highlight the breast cancer rates and treatment. She noted that breast cancer is the number two cause of cancer death among all women (and now the number one cause among black and Hispanic women), and that there are 4.1 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. “Last year, we saw more than 2500 patients at the Breast Center – more than 500 were new patients -- and provided over 16,000 mammograms,” she said. “We found 145 new cases of breast cancer.”

State of the art 3D mammography with tomosynthesis is provided at the Breast Center, at the Eleanor and Ethel Leh Women’s Center at UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown, and in the UM Shore Medical Pavilions at Cambridge, Denton and Queenstown. Other diagnostic tools offered by the Clark Comprehensive Breast Center include ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and needle biopsy.

In her testimonial, Nelson described the timely, comprehensive plan of care provided to her at the time of her breast cancer diagnosis, and her journey through surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. “We are very fortunate to have access to top quality cancer care here on the Eastern Shore,” she said. “On every step of my journey, I received so much compassionate concern and support from the physicians, nurses and others involved in my care.”

Nelson also expressed her appreciation for the benefits she gained from the YMCA of the Chesapeake’s LiveSTRONG program, which helps people experiencing or recovering from cancer treatment regain their strength, flexibility and confidence.

The Clark Comprehensive Breast Center is offering a variety of programs during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, including three “Walk for Wellness” events (in St. Michaels, Denton and Easton) coordinated with the YMCA of the Chesapeake; and presentations on breast cancer prevention strategies and screening in Easton and Cambridge. For more information about these programs, contact Catalina Billings, Outreach Coordinator, 410-820-9400,