Empower Yourself! By Asha Kodan


Often times we hear the term “empowerment” and several things come to mind. You may think of Rosie the Riveter with her fist held high, reciting her famous quote “We Can Do It!” You might even think of yourself or someone you know that has gone through a rough patch in their lives and came out stronger from their experience. But what exactly does the word empowerment mean? Well, there are two different definitions of this one word, and both are equally true. The formal meaning of empowerment is when a person is given legal authority over something. The definition that most people identify with is that of giving someone the confidence to take control of their life.

So why is this important? Billions of women around the world live their day-to-day lives under a lot of societal, familial, and cultural pressures. From as far back as history can go, we have always gotten the short end of the stick. Even in the pro-feminism era that we’re living in today, women have a lot on their plate. We constantly juggle our various roles as mothers, wives, employees, daughters, and sisters. Most of the time we’re too overwhelmed with caring for others that we forget to take care of ourselves.

But the point of this blog isn’t to depress anyone. In fact, reading this should do the exact opposite. At The Capital Breast Care Center we believe that your health comes first, no matter what background you come from. We pride ourselves in breaking barriers for women and, yes, empowering them to take a stand for their health. But empowerment doesn’t just stop here; it’s a way of life. It means that we are capable and secure. It means that we are always learning, growing, and changing. Living empowered means that we know how to be assertive and express our wants.

If you take a minute to search “empowering quotes” on Google, then you will find a plethora of sayings that are meant to inspire you. But the truth is that inspiration comes from within; if each and every one of us motivates ourselves to live an empowered life, then maybe this world won’t be such a bad place after all.


We laugh and so should you!

Lady in blue laughing

You’ve probably heard someone say, “Laughter is the best medicine”. Just hearing someone laugh generally lightens your mood. At Capital Breast Care Center we are proud that we can laugh so freely. We recognize that we are imperfect beings and prone to mistakes so we give ourselves permission to laugh about them. It is not uncommon for a staff member to laugh at something that they did and have their laughter float through the office. The free flowing sound often encourages others to get up from their desk in search of that same feeling.

We know that laughing with someone else is much better than laughing alone. During times of shared laughter, co-workers can unite, especially during stressful times. These special interactions are infused with joy and the effect can be long lasting. Some would argue that laughter is your birthright. If that is true, then make it a part of your daily life and in turn you may improve your health.

Laughter triggers your body’s release of endorphins. These special chemicals can give you an overall sense of well being. Think back to the last time you laughed so hard your stomach hurt. Remember how good you felt once you were finally able to stop? Do yourself a favor – make time to laugh.

Enjoy the Season.


It is no secret that I love Farmers Markets. Each week I smile as I head to the market knowing each trip is its own experience. The fresh,visually appealing, just picked produce is hard to resist. The smells cause my taste buds to awaken in anticipation. As I look at the displays, the people standing beside the abundance of fruits and vegetables also strike me. These farmers work hard to bring joy and nourishment to many and put a story behind the food I purchase. Their hands and sun burned skin often reflect their hard work and seeing that makes me appreciate the food even more. It has become personal.

It is very easy to develop relationships with the individual farmers who proudly display what they have grown. I have learned that I have a kinship with certain farmers based on what they grow. My first stop is generally at the far end of the market where the family with the best corn, sweet potatoes and asparagus can be found. I also like Michael who is known for his lettuce, Swiss chard and turnips. Then there is the “egg man” who has the long line at his stand even before the bell rings. And, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the farmer who has the best strawberries and green beans. They miss you when you are away on vacation and come to know what you really enjoy.

Once I am home with my purchases, I am excited about the certainty that comes with knowing my food will truly nourish my body. I know that, for the most part, these farmers have gone through great lengths to grow the most nutritious produce using sustainable techniques. Also, I recognize that I am connected to the cycles of nature, the earth and the weather. While I benefit so much from my visits, I am also proud that I have supported small family farmers and contributed to protecting the environment by shopping locally. So, invite you to enjoy the seasons and the foods that go along with them by visiting your local Farmers Market.


Life in Our Hands: Mammo Day

By Tesha Coleman, Program DirectorTesha friends

Now that my friends and I are getting ‘up in age’ we realize that in a few years we will all need to have our very first mammogram. Instead of waiting until the last minute or tackling this alone, we have decided to get our mammograms together when we turn 40. Of course this isn’t only a mammogram day, we have big plans. The day will begin with our mammogram appointments, followed by a week-long vacation to someplace like Boro Boro, Tahiti, Hawaii, Paris or Rome. I would love to write that this is a huge coming of age triumph or victory. Actually it is a great excuse to get away for a week other than ‘just’ turning 40. I don’t think that any of us are scared or have misconceptions about the process of a mammogram. The biggest victory in all of this is that we will not procrastinate our mammograms like we do so many other things in life such as pap appointments, annual physical exams, hair appointments, washing/folding/putting away clothes, spa day, taking books back to the library, etc, etc. As with everything else we will need to plan in advance and prepare our loved ones who will be taking care of the 6 children, 3 dogs and a cat that we currently have among us. Hmmm… It may be 9 kids, 5 dogs, 2 cats and a fish by then. 🙂



What Have You Done Today?


Lombardi/CBCC Avon Walk Team crosses the finish line.

The Avon Walk Closing Ceremony was a rewarding end to a long journey. The Lombardi/CBCC Avon Walk Team made their last strides on the National Mall on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon to the sound of boisterous cheering. Their photo at the finish line was like something out of a movie. The wind was blowing, the sun was shining, and Heather Small’s “Proud” was creating a surround sound of atmospheric victory.


As tired as the walkers were, there was no shortage of smiles, dancing, hugging and pictures. As the program began at 2:30, all of the teams blended into one crowd of victors who had beaten the fear of breast cancer and contributed to the fight against it. There is something special about accomplishing something meaningful with a team of great people that creates overwhelming happiness.

After 190 miles of walking and $190,000 in funds raised, Lombardi/CBCC Avon Walk Team has certainly outdone themselves. Other walkers could not help but notice the blue shirts. One woman commented, “I kept seeing the blue shirts, and I thought ‘Who are they? What a great team.’” Of course team members took the opportunity to recruit the woman, who walked with a buddy this year, to join them next year!

Our team has represented us well. We are so honored! The team was was touched by Program Director Tesha Coleman’s heartfelt remarks after she accepted our generous $200,000 Avon award. Their faces said it all, “This is why we walk.”

“What have you done today to make you feel proud?”

Our TEAM! Posing on stage after the closing ceremony.


Program Director, Tesha Coleman, delivering Avon Walk Closing Ceremony speech.



All Thanks to One Class

By Jeanne Nwagwu, Georgetown University Class of 2014


What would bring a senior Human Science major from Georgetown University to Capital Breast Care Center (CBCC)? I was not looking for medical care; I was not looking for patient navigation; and I was not looking for health education. I was looking for an opportunity to learn something new and experience something different. Actually, what really brought me here was a class. I had to develop a research project related to health. There are so many kinds of research, but I know I’m not the type of person to sit in a lab all day and look at cells underneath the microscope. It is important work, but that work is definitely not for me. I find that I excel the best and learn the most when I have the opportunity to interact with people.

I was fortunate enough to be introduced to some members of Capital Breast Care Center (CBCC) through my student group at Georgetown, Breast Cancer Outreach (BCO). Currently, I am the president of BCO and the purpose of our club is to promote awareness and to fundraise in order to help fight against the most common form of cancer in women. We enjoy tabling weekly with information about prevention techniques and selling our t-shirt with catchy slogans such as “Treasure your Chest” and “Save Second Base” because we know it is important to spread awareness about this disease that plagues so many women. The money we fundraise goes to organizations that provide preventative care and support for women with breast cancer such as CBCC.

Interning here at CBCC, has afforded me the opportunity to work with some amazing people, both staff and patients. From those interactions, I was also able to develop a research project. I focused on racial and ethnic minority populations and their involvement in research studies. The goal is to determine if basic information about research studies will increase willingness to participate. Everyone here at CBCC has been so supportive of my project and offering me assistance with many facets of my project. It has been a real honor working with everyone here at CBCC. I have learned so much. Now that my year here at CBCC is over, I am proud to say that I am leaving them with something that will hopefully add to the amazing work that they already do. They have already given me so much. The least I could do is return the favor.




Test your knowledge!  Read the summary of our #breastmyths Twitter chat.

Myth or Fact:  Women with lumpy breasts have a higher risk of breast cancer.
Myth! There is no increased risk BUT it may be harder to read mammogram results. Ultrasounds are usually recommended.

Myth or Fact:  If I feel a lump in my breast, it’s breast cancer.  Are all lumps in the breast cancer.
Myth!  There is some possibility; breast changes are common, and it is not guaranteed.  About 80% of breast lumps are not cancer-related. Always ask your doctor.

Myth or Fact:  A mammogram flatten my breasts.
Let’s clarify.  Your breasts will be temporarily pressed to make your results as clear as possible. After the exam, your breasts will return to their normal shape.

Myth or Fact:  Women with smaller breasts don’t have to worry as much about breast cancer.
Myth!  There is no evidence to support this. Women with small breasts should still get regular annual mammograms.

Myth or Fact:  Breast pain means I have breast cancer.
Breast pain MAY be a sign of breast cancer, but it does not guarantee it. Schedule an appointment to get it checked out.

Myth or Fact:  I should have my breasts examined once a year by my doctor or nurse?
Doctors and nurses can examine your breasts! A clinical breast exam (CBE) is a physical examination of your breasts that can be done by a doctor, nurse practitioner, nurse, or physician assistant every three years starting at age 20. Mammograms are annual screenings that involve a machine that captures images.

Myth or Fact:  Breast cancer always comes in the form of a lump.
A lump MAY be cancer, but NOT always. Swelling, skin irritation, or even underarm swelling can also be symptoms

If you have questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments, email them to cbcc@georgetown.edu, tweet them, or message us on Facebook! The more women know about their breasts and their annual mammograms, the more they will practice health-promoting behaviors. Thank you for helping us get the word out!



Thanks to Dr. Dae for chatting with us on Twitter.  She gave us some great healthy lifestyle ideas!  In case you missed it, here’s a summary:

Q: Dr. Dae, what do you mean by “nourished life”?
A: To nourish, is “to provide (someone or something) with food and other things that are needed to live, be healthy, etc. What we need to be nourished more than food, it is to be loved, acknowledged and supported in our goals and dreams. Think of nourishment as the rich and luxury of life in small ways that lift our spirit, or make us smile.

Q: In terms of food, how do we nourish ourselves?
A: Nourishing foods support the health of your body and mind. For example, who doesn’t like watermelon in summer? Watermelon contains phytonutrients—plant-based chemicals that reduce heart disease, regulate blood sugars, help w/digestive health.

Nourishing foods can also be vegetables that our grammy made for us that bring back memories of our childhood like collard greens; great soups on a snowy day; a lovely piece of salmon or snapper; oatmeal; brown rice with veggies; or a handful of trail mix as a snack to last you until dinner.

Q: Before eating or cooking, how SHOULD we be thinking of food?
A: Food is fuel! It can be delicious and nutritious fuel too. There are benefits to finding healthy nourishing foods. A mentor @DrDavidKatz says love the foods that love you back! When you eat something that came from a seed you get all that energy. It’s a wholefood. When you eat an Oreo get nothing.

Rule of thumb: If you have to take Tums or digestive support before you eat something that is not a nourishing food for you. Think of food as the provider of your energy.

Nourishing foods reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation is part of the healing process for us all, but when it happens every day (especially internally) it causes disease. Counter inflammation with a plant-based diet, reduce stress, get enough sleep and drink water.

Q: How do we make nourished time for ourselves?
A:  It is important to plan nourishing time. Give yourself 10 minutes a day or once a week. In 10 min. you can take a walk in nature, meditate, call a friend to say hello, read something, or dance to your favorite song. Meditation can be alone or in a group. It starts with deep breathing. Just start with taking 10 deep breaths.

Q: How can this “nourishing time” help me live better?
A: Think of the difference in your energy level when you are depleted versus when you are nourished. When we are nourished we feel more relaxed, less stressed, faster healing, more open to new possibilities. Nourishment is love. Loving ourselves creates more space to share love with others.


A Legacy of Health

Tanya Torres, Bilingual Patient Navigator and Community Outreach Coordinator


Tanya Torres leading an educational session at one of our community partner sites.

It is such an honor to be able to do the work that I do. I’ve met wonderful people working here at CBCC. It’s also a great honor when I’m able to meet respected health care professionals who understand what we do and have similar interests. One of those people is Dr. Elmer Huerta.

I was asked to be a guest on Dr. Elmer Huerta’s radio show in February to talk about CBCC, and it was so exciting! I’ve been listening to his show, Cuidando su Salud (Taking Care of Your Health), since I was a little girl. I almost feel like I know him! My whole family loved listening and always got something out of the show. It meant a lot to have someone whom we knew we could trust to give us reliable health information—and in Spanish! Dr. Huerta was like my health teacher—an extension of my first health advocate, my dad. I’m a daddy’s girl. My dad always had us listen to the show since he is the biggest health advocate in my family.

My dad made sure that my sister and I went home to El Salvador during the summer in order to appreciate a different point of view, a different kind of life, and of course my heritage. He grew up in the country where the nearest doctor was miles away, so you only went to the doctor if something was wrong. Of course, by then it may be too late. When his older sister died of breast cancer, he knew that if the family had kept regular doctor visits, she might have lived. This prompted my dad to action, and he made sure that his two daughters were well educated about health matters. Raised by the women in his family, he realized that women’s health is often neglected. Usually he saw that they were too busy looking after everyone else to be proactive about their own health.

That is exactly the reason that he made sure that his family, especially his two girls, listened to Dr. Huerta’s radio show. It engrained in our young minds that maintaining health is a priority. Who knew that I would become a navigator and continue his efforts by encouraging good health among Latinas from different countries? Who knew that my job would lead me to meet the person who helped to start my family’s journey to a healthy life? It’s a small world.


Dr. Elmer Huerta, health radio guru.

Saturday Inspiration: Is My Living in Vain?

Wanda Lucas, Executive Director


In the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” the character Mr. Bailey gets to see the lives he touched and how different his community of Bedford Falls would be had he not existed. Then there’s the movie “Pay It Forward” where little Trevor creates a program where the recipient of a favor does a favor for three others rather than paying the favor back. How often do you think about your own personal imprint in this world?

Recently, Capital Breast Care Center dedicated its mammography room to the late Zora Brown, a breast cancer advocate, activist and women’s health champion. She was very instrumental in getting the center opened, and also created its name. During the dedication, women who are trailblazers in their own right spoke with pride about their relationship with Zora. Those present felt the spirit of this great woman through these words and could not avoid being touched emotionally. I smile as I find myself walking pass the plaque bearing her name and wonder if she be proud of our recognition of her. But more importantly, would she be proud of the work that Capital Breast Care Center is doing? 

I often think of my own demise since my cancer diagnosis. Common questions arise such as:  “Will I have regrets? Will I have accomplished most of my ‘bucket list’?” “Will I have time to say goodbye to those I love?” However, I spend a great deal of time wondering what others will say about me after I am gone.

As I greet each day, I must remember to make the time to pay it forward and find ways to make a difference. I may not want a plaque in my memory but I would like to leave this world knowing that I made an impact somewhere, somehow and to someone.  

“If I can help somebody as I pass along then my living shall not be in vain” – these words taken from  a popular gospel song resonate strongly with me. When it is all said and done, I hope my living will not be in vain.