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Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Dana Elkins and her family pose at her son's graduation.

Dana Elkins and her family pose at her son's graduation. Elkins is currently battling Breast Cancer while working as a Physical Therapist Assistant at the Savannah VA Outpatient Clinic.

By Scott Pauley, Public Affairs Specialist
Friday, October 26, 2018

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month - a time for everyone to recognize and talk about the dangers for women around the world. According to, about one in eight U.S. women (roughly 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime, and an estimated 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S. in 2018 alone.

Dana Elkins, a physical therapy assistant in the Savannah VA Outpatient Clinic, was diagnosed with breast cancer last July, and has been battling to get back to her patients ever since.

“Having a job that you can come back to that is so rewarding is helpful to get back up,” Elkins said. “The people I work with, my patients, and my kids have been so supportive. When you have the bad days where you go to radiation and it’s a really bad day, knowing that you have helped so many Veterans and what you have to look forward to makes it so much better.”

Along the way, as with all cancer survivors, there have been some complications for Elkins, but she credits her strong base of family, friends, and coworkers for helping her to get through this difficult time.

“If you don’t have a good support system, the emotional side is really tough, but having a great team of co-workers and a rewarding job helps,” Elkins said. “My co-workers in Savannah have been really supportive, and have helped me get up and get out of the house when it is hard. I had been out for almost five months, and my coworkers here put together some stuff for me and my children for Christmas. That meant so much to me.”

One instance truly illustrated the impact that she has had on the Veterans she serves, and it reminded her of the importance of the job she worked so hard to get back to in her recovery.

“I had a patient whose wife was going through cancer at the same time as I was, and he heard my voice in the hospital while he was there with his wife,” she said. “He asked the nurses if it was me, because he thought he recognized my voice. It meant a lot to me to have him take a moment in the hospital to come talk to me while he was there with his wife, who he ended up losing. It reminded me of how much impact I can have in this job.”


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