Etowah Senior

Janis Wenzel and volunteer Ashlee Ricker are shown here loading food boxes that Janis will be delivering to seniors in the community.

A huge thank you to all those seniors who came to our drive-in bingo last week. An especially a big thank you to Hospice of Chattanooga and Diane Hopkins for sponsoring our event. It was great to see so many of the faces we have been missing.

Because of the rise in COVID cases in our area, we will not have any in-person activities until at least after Thanksgiving. Then we will see if the cases have slowed down. We will continue to distribute food boxes every Friday.

Whenever we see Janis Wenzel at the Senior Center, we know not to blink because she will be off again on one of her many volunteering adventures. Janis is a retired Registered Nurse. She graduated in nursing from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She started her career in the emergency room and as an ICU nurse. After moving to this area, she became employed at Woods Memorial Hospital as an ICU nurse in their newly-opened Intensive Care Unit. She then worked in the dialysis unit, where she continued her nursing career for 25 years. Janis may be retired, but she has not slowed down one bit.

Janis is a regular at Athens Place assisting with devotions with her church, Athens Lutheran, where she also teaches Sunday School and is in the Alter Guild. She regularly calls bingo at Starr Regional Rehabilitation in Etowah. She volunteers as a nurse at the Good Faith Clinic twice each month. She volunteers with the St. Mary’s Mobile Clinic when they visit Athens each month. She is active with the Sisters of the Heart women’s group and the Quilter’s of Faith at Allen Memorial United Methodist Church, where she has completed four quilts. She also volunteered at the Remote Area Clinic.

This year, Janis had to skip her missionary trip with the Medical Mission Team from the Honduras Dental/Medical Mission Organization from Mississippi because of the worldwide pandemic. While in Honduras, Janis would assist in evaluating patients for a referral to a doctor. She would take their blood pressure, temperature, etc. She would check for parasites and give vaccinations. The volunteers would take prescription glasses, sunglasses, and over-the-counter reading glasses with them. The medical teams that travel to Honduras are the only medical care that the residents of Honduras receive.

But fortunately, they were able to send needed supplies to the people of Honduras. Janis and her group raised $1,200 for beans and rice, and $250 for baby formula. They also helped with shirts, shoes, sunglasses, clothesline and clothespins. Because of the difference in the price of supplies in Honduras, the funds raised went very far to help with their needs.

One thing that Janis regrets about not going to Honduras in person is that they were not able to have evangelism services. And they were not able to provide over $50,000 in medicine that the people needed. She is very hopeful that next year they will be able to assist the people of Honduras in person.

Somehow Janis has made time in her busy life for traveling for fun. Recently, she has visited San Diego, Hawaii, gone on a cruise visiting several islands and the Gulf Shores. And somehow she still loves to visit with her three children, Karl, Karen and Kay and her five beautiful grandchildren.

You may wonder how Janis has time for anything else, but she still is an active volunteer at our senior center. She spends countless hours at our center volunteering in several different capacities. Every Friday, she delivers meals to our Meals-On-Wheels recipients. She even delivers many more food boxes to those unable to come pick them up. Janis assisted us with our drive-in bingo last week.

Improving the health of our seniors is very important to her. She regularly gives health information to our seniors, such as information on CPR, how to use an Automatic External Defibrillator, and most recently about preventing breast cancer. Janis would like to share some information about breast cancer with everyone.

Preventing breast cancer is dear to Janis’ heart since seven ladies in her circle of friends have either fought breast cancer or are battling it now. She expressed to everyone that she does not want to see anyone else she knows having to deal with this disease!

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women. More than 200,000 women in the United States get breast cancer every year. More than 40,000 will die from the disease. Men also can get breast cancer, but less than 1% of breast cancer occurs in men. Three-fourths of the breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years or older, but breast cancer also affects younger women. About 10% of all new cases of breast cancer in the United States are found in women younger than 45 years of age.

Janis would like you to know the warning signs of breast cancer. They include:

• New lump in the breast or underarm.

• Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.

• Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.

• Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.

• Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.

• Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.

• Any change in the size or shape of the breast.

• Pain in the breast.

Even though there is nothing anyone can do that will prevent breast cancer completely, there are some things that can be done that may reduce your risk of developing breast cancer:

• Keep a healthy weight.

• Exercise regularly.

• Get the recommended amount of sleep.

• Don’t drink alcohol, or at least limit alcoholic drinks to one per day.

• Avoid exposure to chemicals that have been shown to increase the risk of cancer.

• Limit exposure to radiation from medical tests such as x-rays, CT scans and PET scans if not medically necessary.

• If you take hormone therapy or oral contraceptives, talk to your doctor about the risks and find out if it is right for you.

Remember that breast cancer can strike even if you have no history of breast cancer in your family.

Janis reminds us that no one wants to get the diagnosis of breast cancer, but the earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the chance of recovery increases tremendously. One of the most important screenings for breast cancer that a woman can do is routine self-examination. If you are not familiar with self-examination, please contact your physician for instructions or call your local breast center. Another important screening that is crucial to early detection is the yearly mammogram. The American Cancer Society recommends that every female over 40 have an annual mammogram. A clinical exam yearly by your physician is also needed.

Janis does not want anyone to say that they are too old for these yearly exams. Chances are twice as great of developing breast cancer at age 70.

Today, the diagnoses of breast cancer have decreased by 35%. This is due to early detection and advanced treatment.

Janis has a necklace that she wears that has beads that show the sizes of breast lumps found by mammography and self-exams. The large bead shows the average lump found by women untrained in breast self-examination. The next smaller bead shows an average size lump found by women practicing occasional breast self-examination. The next smaller bead is the average size lump found by women practicing regular self-examination. The next smaller bead shows the average lump found by the first mammogram. And the tiny bead show the average size lump found by getting regular mammograms. This necklace helps us understand how important early detection is in treating breast cancer.

Janis wants to remind everyone of the ABC’s of breast cancer:

A. Have your annual mammogram.

B. Do your breast self-exam monthly.

C. Have a clinical exam yearly with your doctor.

Following this plan just may save your life.

Sue Walker is the executive director of the Etowah Area Senior Citizens Center. She may be reached by calling 423-781-7632.

Sue Walker is the executive director of the Etowah Area Senior Citizens Center. She may be reached by calling 423-781-7632.

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