Doctor's Notes

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Breast Cancer – Early Detection is the Best Protection


What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer occurs when the cells in your breasts become abnormal and grow out of control to form tumors. It is the most common cancer among women and the second leading cause of cancer death in women in the United States.

There are lifestyles changes that have been shown to lower risk of breast cancer.

  • Reduce alcohol use – Limit yourself to one drink a day or less.
  • Eat healthy foods – Stay at a healthy weight; limit high fat or sugary foods and red meats. Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Be physically active – Walk, jog, swim, or dance. Strive to be active for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
  • Breastfeed – If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consider breastfeeding your child for the first year and beyond if possible.
  • Do not smoke – Quit smoking and avoid second hand smoke.
  • Decrease stress – Do things that you enjoy and surround yourself with friends and family.

Besides lifestyle changes, receiving routine breast cancer screening is the most important thing we can do to protect ourselves. By doing so, breast cancer can be found early, before the tumor becomes large or spreads. When detected early, the cancer is easier to treat and more treatment options may be available. Mammography (x-ray of the breasts) is the most effective screening method for detecting breast cancer early.

If you have a personal or family history of breast cancer or are 40 years or older, talk to a health care provider about getting mammograms regularly. Find out when to start getting screened, how often to get screened, and what kind of screenings you may need.

If you would like to learn more about reducing alcohol use or quitting smoking , you may also talk to your provider about available resources.

Make an appointment with a gynecologist to get screened today.  You can make an appointment at our OBGYN department by calling (212) 966-0228 for Manhattan or (718) 886-1287 for Queens. Find more information by visiting our OBGYN webpage.

This post is made possible with funding from the NYC Council.


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Accelerating Health Equity for the Nation – A Reflection on Minority Health

NHMH Minority Health

Written by Rachelle Peraz Ocampo, EdM

This year, Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health celebrates its 30th year anniversary and launched the theme, “Accelerating Health Equity for the Nation” to observe National Minority Health Month. What does this mean for the Asian American community and our patients at Charles B. Wang Community Health Center? What does this mean to me?

The term “Health Equity” has been a trending phrase in the public health world, and it continues to dominate in spaces that align with advocating for social justice, addressing social determinants of health, and providing opportunities for the underserved. I first encountered the term “Health Equity” when I came across a simple, yet powerful image entitled “Equality Doesn’t Mean Justice.” It illustrates the stark difference between two often interchanged terms: equality and equity.


These two images point out that equality is giving everyone the same resources, but this only works if everyone starts from the same place. Equity is providing access to the same resources or opportunities. At the Health Center, we believe that everyone should have the same opportunity to achieve their highest level of health. This means that we provide quality and comprehensive care to all members of our community no matter their ability to pay or their citizenship status. In the Health Education Department, we provide extra support to the populations we serve by developing and disseminating culturally and linguistically appropriate health resources. Our materials are shared through various online and print platforms, outreach and tabling events, coalition meetings, local businesses, educational workshops, and 1-1 counseling.

For me, “Accelerating Health Equity for the Nation” is about recognizing my personal areas of privilege. This includes the opportunity to earn degrees from higher education institutions through federally funded loans, having a strong and reassuring support system, and the opportunity to live in a safe home and neighborhood. By recognizing these areas of privilege, I proactively choose to raise awareness that systemic barriers exists and support underrepresented minority groups access and navigate resources that are culturally relevant and language appropriate. As we celebrate National Minority Health Month, it is imperative to acknowledge that there are severe gaps with providing equitable opportunities for minorities, particularly the Asian American community. The responsibility to bridge these gaps, as minorities, is on us.  These are some examples that I believe are how we can take part in the movement of health equity:

  • We need to develop more strategic partnerships with well-funded institutions, city agencies, and grassroots organizations that have aligned goals to serve minority populations.
  • We need to incorporate addressing minority health in all initiatives that drive socio-economic factors like affordable housing, job opportunities, and access to fresh and healthy food.
  • We need to create mentorship programs that focus on connecting minority students with other minority public health professionals.
  • We need to advocate for data disaggregation to provide improved funding streams, since different Asian American ethnicities have unique social, educational, and economic experiences and issues.

Supporting minority health can be as simple as retweeting a message that supports Health Equity for the Asian American community or can be as extensive as rallying groups to push Bill Intro 251 on data disaggregation. Each of us has a role to play for accelerating health equity, and I choose to be proactive in utilizing my extensive networks to raise awareness and provide tools and opportunities for our issues to be heard and addressed.

Rachelle Peraz Ocampo, EdM is the Associate Director of Health Education at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She is also a Lead Co-Host of Makilala TV, the first Fil-Am TV Talk Show in the NY metro area and is on the Board of Directors for Roots Of Health which provides free clinical services and health education to women in the Philippines. Ever since her involvement with Pilipino American Unity for Progress, Inc. (UniPro), she has always been challenging herself to lead in spaces that help raise the Pilipino American voice. Follow Rachelle’s passions: @RockyRach16 @CBWCHC @MakilalaTV @ROHorg @UniProNow

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Celebrating National Volunteer Week


Written by Virginia Lou Ng

It’s National Volunteer Appreciation Week!  And no one appreciates volunteers more than me.

From a very early age, my mother taught me the value of being a volunteer.  As a child, I would accompany my mother to the Buddhist temple, and we would cook meals for the monks, nuns, and the congregation.  We also visited those who were house-bound and senior citizens.  One summer my mother recruited me to babysit for a newly arrived family all summer. I did this graciously, and without complaint.

When my own daughter was old enough, I became her Girl Scout Leader.  I was one of those rare people, who when asked, said: “Yes, I can do it”.  Those words became all too familiar in the years to come.  I was the class parent, PTA president, taught religious classes, worked the hot dog stand during little league games,  and was the band parent president in high school for both children.

Being an active volunteer has paid off. Through volunteering, I developed numerous job skills.  It helped me learn how to conduct business seminars and trainings. It also taught me about people.  I have gained self-confidence that I truly lacked when I was young, and learned to speak publicly before an audience (without trembling and shaking).  I have been truly rewarded in my volunteer years, knowing that somehow I have made a difference in someone’s life.

As the volunteer manager at Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, I encourage everyone to volunteer in some capacity.  Volunteering is a reward in itself.  I am reminded of the time I attended one of my former girl scout’s wedding.  I approached her right before the reception and said that there must be some mistake, since she had me seated at the parents table.  She told me, “Mrs. Ng, you’re my other mother.”  That moment I knew what a difference volunteering had made—both for her and for myself.

In 2015, Charles B. Wang Community Health Center had nearly 140 volunteers.  Volunteer hours range from 45 hours to those who have been with us for several years.  They learn skills, meet and help people, and really make a difference in the lives of our patients and community. Volunteers have been placed in all sites, and served as “extra” hands who aid us in our work.  Without the volunteers, our work would not be as smooth as it is.  I am very grateful for our volunteers, for the hard work and support that they offer.  Their dedication to our community is exhilarating. A big thank you to all who have volunteered with us at the Health Center. We appreciate you!

Virginia Lou Ng is the Associate Administrator at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, where she serves as volunteer manager and special events coordinator.  She is the current president of the OCA-NJ Chapter (Organization of Chinese Americans).  She received her 35 year membership pin from the Girl Scouts of the USA and is the recipient of the Thanks Badge I & II, the highest awards given to a GS volunteer.

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How to Manage Smoking Cravings

GettyImages_506888159_man exercise run outdoors

By Michelle Chen

There is no denying that tobacco urges are powerful. In fact, cravings are the hardest part of quitting smoking for many people. Try to remember that cravings come and go and only last a few minutes, regardless of whether or not you smoke. With each craving that you beat, you are one step closer to quitting for good. We know that can be easier said than done. Here are some tips to help you overcome the urge to smoke:

  • Use relaxation techniques. For many, smoking is a way to deal with stress. Try yoga, deep-breathing exercises, or a massage to help take the edge off.
  • Start a new task and tell yourself you can hold off for another 10 minutes. Repeat until the craving goes away.
  • Use medications. Talk to your provider about nicotine patches, gum, and other medications to help you quit. They can lessen the discomfort.
  • Keep your mouth and hands busy. Chew sugar-free gum, have a glass of cold water, or chew on a straw instead. Try squeezing a stress ball when you want to reach for a cigarette.
  • Call or text a friend who can provide support. You may also benefit from quitters’ blogs and programs like SmokefreeTXT. Remember—you don’t have to go through this process alone.
  • Take a walk or jog. If you don’t have time, go up and down the stairs a few times. A trip around the block can boost your energy and help you overcome the craving.
  • Add up your savings. Calculate all the money that you’ve saved from giving up smoking. Plan what you’re going to do with the extra cash.

We know quitting can be hard, but your health improves the moment you stop. Your loved ones will be thankful for it, too. Are you ready to take the next steps, but don’t know where to begin? Check out our posts for reasons to quit and ways to make quitting easier, and learn more about secondhand smoke.

At the Health Center, we can help patients quit or cut back on smoking:

You can also get free patches and help from:

This article is made possible with funding from the RCHN Community Health Foundation and adapted from NYCDOHMH’s Health Bulletin.

Michelle Chen is a Health Educator at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She has a B.A. in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies from Barnard College. She is interested in the intersection of public health and Asian American activism.