The fight against breast cancer continues in the Pine Belt, and a local plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Hattiesburg Clinic about the importance of yearly check-ups and how his job plays an important role in the battle.
"Getting a yearly mammogram is paramount and has been proven over the years to be the first and probably the best screening method," Dr. Richard Pecunia said.
It is recommended women age 40 should start screenings. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women. The American Cancer Society estimates more than 200,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in U.S. women just this year.
"Women always need to be conscious of their health," Pecunia said. "They have to get regular checkups, regular exams, regular lab works and things like that. This all dove tails with the care of the female breasts."
Serving the Pine Belt for more than 20 years, Pecunia began the Department of Plastic Surgery as Hattiesburg Clinic's first plastic and reconstructive surgeon in 1994.
"A lot of what we do as far as women's health is concerned is involved with patients who have had breast cancer and undergone a mastectomy to treat their breast cancer," Pecunia said. "My role is to become involved with the component of breast reconstruction. This is where attempts are made to replace what the mastectomy has taken away. We try and put back together some semblance of what makes them whole again."
He has a true passion for helping those women fighting.
"You know personally, I think this is what God put me here to do," Pecunia said. "They are faced with a scary and sometimes very debilitating disease. It's a scary hill to try and climb, and I found that when we see ladies and we start talking about the rebuilding of what has to be removed, they start to kind of perk up again and really feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel and there is going to be some semblance of normalcy when it's all said and done. That makes them feel good and it makes me feel good too."