Over the last 20 years, the Women’s Cancer Awareness Night Out in Turlock has seen a variety of celebritiy speakers: reality show stars, actresses, newscasters. This year, the speaker was a little more unexpected: a physician dubbed by People magazine “the sexiest doctor alive”.
Mikhail Varshavski, who lives in New York City and practices family medicine in New Jersey, addressed a room full of women at the annual celebration, sponsored by Emanuel Cancer Center.
He poked fun at his magazine title — “Is this what sexy is?” - but also said it has brought him the opportunity to reach wider audiences for his message of health prevention, and to raise money for charity.
After assuring the audience he is, indeed a real doctor ( “I’m not Dr. Phil; I’m Dr. Mike”), he brought a volunteer in stage to discuss the three things doctors look at when first examining a new patient. The first is skin; any change, be it redness or a mole, should be brought to your physician’s attention. The second is hair, “particularly hair in women where it often grows in men.” So he recommended that women who find chin hairs make an appointment with their doctor, rather than the spa to remove it. Finally, he said they look at a certain area of the body: “I’m not Dracula, but I do like necks.” An oversized neck can mean anything from an infection to sleep apnea, he said.
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The evening also featured flashbacks from the last 20 years of events, as well as the last 10 years since the cancer center opened.
And for the fifth year, Turlock firefighters selected a recipient for their “Pink Helmet Award”, which goes to someone who has bravely fought cancer. This year’s award went to Brenda Goates, a neonatal intensive care nurse who cared for her husband during his battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. A year after he died, she was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer.
“Once again, our honoree showed bravery, courage, and strength as she accepted her diagnosis, and underwent chemotherapy and radiation,” said firefighter Chad Hackett. “She also has faced multiple surgeries, including a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction.
“Her twin daughters, Tiffany and Christina, said it beautifully in her nomination, ‘As young women ourselves, we can only hope that we can have the same amount of bravery, courage, and strength our mother has shown us during these tough times.’”
Goates has been in remission for two years.