LDH Secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee today urged mothers across Louisiana to live healthily and to ensure that they get regular health checks, including annual mammograms and other cancer screenings when appropriate. Gee, a mother of five, cited the loss of her own mother as one reason why she makes sure to always get her own annual physicals and has begun to get an annual mammogram.

"Twenty-five years ago I lost my mother to cancer. I, like far too many other individuals in our nation, had her taken from me far too early because of a disease that for many does not have to be fatal. That's why this Mother's Day I hope that every woman in Louisiana thinks about how she can best protect her own health as well as the health of her children."

The American Cancer Society recommends women aged 45 to 54 should get an annual mammogram, which can detect breast cancer in women, but states that all women 40 and older should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screenings if they wish to do so. Women aged 55 and older are recommended to have a mammogram performed at least every two years.

Cervical cancer is also a danger to women, and the American Cancer Society recommends regular Pap tests for women aged 21 and older. Full recommendations for cancer screenings, including screenings recommended for men, can be found on the American Cancer Society's website.

"As a mom who herself lost her own mother, I am very passionate and vocal about the importance of preventive care, such as annual screenings. It's important for everyone to know the risks of cancer to get the appropriate tests done regularly throughout their lifetime," Gee stated.

Gee also shared her hopes that families across Louisiana will have the opportunity to gather and celebrate Mother's Day just as she plans to do with her own children.

"This Mother's Day I wish everyone the happiest and best of celebrations while they celebrate the blessings of family. I also offer my deepest sympathy to those who, like me, keep the loving memories of their mothers close to their hearts," said Gee.

The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state residents.To learn more about LDH, visit www.dhh.la.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow DHH's Twitter account and Facebook.