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According to the U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group, United States Cancer Statistics: Incidence and Mortality. Atlanta (Ga.): Department of Health and Human Services, aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. Breast cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths in Hispanic women, and it is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native women.
Recent statistics stated that 186,772 women and 1,815 men were diagnosed with breast cancer and 40,954 women and 362 men died from breast cancer in 2010. It is for this reason, October is designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The Sampson County Health Department is working hard to inform the citizens here that early detection is extremely important when it comes to cancer, particularly breast cancer. The Health Department does this through their Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program initiative.
Health Department director Wanda Robinson explains that BCCCP reaches out to those who are under insured or non-insured to provide services that include screening, referrals and follow-up care for women ages 40 to 64.
“BCCCP is funded through federal and state money and targets women from age 40 to 64 that receive no assistance of any type and fall in or below 250 percent poverty line and do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid. Too often these women feel they have no place to go to get help and they suffer from the delay in receiving early services,” explained Robinson.
Gail Lamb, who works with BCCCP, shared that women too often are looking after someone else and tend not to look after their own health.
“Women often put themselves on the back burner so to speak. They either are so busy looking out for other family members or trying to find money to take care of their families that they neglect themselves. This is tragic because many women die as a result of not taking the time for early detection, especially when it relates to cancer,” cited Lamb.
Robinson pointed out that the Health Department was the “doorway for these women” to find the assistance in screening, referral and follow-up they so desperately need.
“We strive to get the word out and make sure everyone knows that we are here and available for them. We also offer services to a wide array of citizens, but BCCCP is vital for those in need financially,” stressed Robinson.
Last year, the department screened about 81 women, but Robinson knows there are more women out there who need the screening but either are afraid or unaware that the service is available.
“There is evidence that 97 percent of the people who are diagnosed early with breast cancer have a high success rate of survival. However the same evidence states that only 21 percent of the women diagnosed in the late stages of breast cancer have a successful survival rate,” cited Lamb.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health reports state that in the United States, breast cancer is the most common non-skin cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related death in women. Each year, a small number of men are also diagnosed with or die from breast cancer. Although the rate of diagnosis of breast cancer increased in the 1990s, it has decreased since 2000, and the overall breast cancer death rate has dropped steadily.
The incidence of breast cancer is highest in white women, but African-American women have higher breast cancer mortality rates than women of any other racial or ethnic group in the United States. The gap in mortality between African-American and white women is wider now than it was in the early 1990s. It is estimated that approximately $13.9 billion is spent in the United States each year on breast cancer treatment.
Robinson explains that BCCCP is not totally funded through federal and state funds.
“The funds we receive are not adequate to meet the needs of those we have to serve. So we have to go out and raise additional funds to help us better serve the public. Our annual Breast Cancer Awareness Rally & Health Fair is our major fundraising event,” said the health director.
“As in years past, we are holding the rally on the same day as the Clinton Street Fair. Hopefully the crowd that gathers will find us on the courthouse steps and see what we have to offer and educate themselves on breast cancer,” remarked Lamb.
The 14th Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Rally & Health Fair will be held from 9:30 a.m. until noon on Saturday, Oct. 13. The event begins on the steps of the courthouse and is followed by a health walk to First Baptist Church, 900 College St. where a health fair will be held.
“We are truly excited about this year’s event,” said Lamb. “We will have a breast cancer survivor to speak to us along with numerous booths that will have a tremendous amount of information for those attending. There will be entertainment and food available. We are especially grateful to our BCCCP Advisory Board which organizes this event annually.
“This year they have out done themselves in obtaining some very special door prizes that will be given away. This is a fundraising event and we do hope people will be willing to donate to this worthy cause,” stressed Lamb. “What better gift can you give than to give life and hope to a family member, neighbor, co-worker or community member.”
The advisory board is comprised of Brenda Marable, Janice Thomas, Annie Fennell, Veronica Murphy, Nettie Pernell, Sabrina Pope, Vickie Jefferson, Malkia Rayner, Kathie Johnson, Wanda Robinson, Kimberly Philpott, Carolyn Jacobs, Juanita German, Denise Simmons, Sandra Morrisey, Corieka Newton, Marilyn Moore, Priscilla Mitchell, Thylistine Vann, Tempie Liffridge and Gail Lamb.
Robinson is also quick to express her gratitude to the volunteer community and the advisory board who work hard to write a grant for funding through South River EMC and help in soliciting donations for BCCCP.
“We invite anyone that would like to join us to come to our meetings. Our next meeting is at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 9 here at the Health Department,” said Lamb.
The Health Department is also trying to promote breast cancer awareness through area churches and is asking a representative from the churches to come by and pick up pink ribbons to pass out at the churches to raise awareness.
“We often seek out churches as a means to get the word out regarding what we do here. Breast cancer awareness is so important and early detection is vital to help women survive. We do all we can to get the word out,” stressed Robinson.
The health director also shared that the Button Chair would be back in the county Monday through Friday, Oct. 8-12. The display will be set up at the Health Department and people can visit the exhibit from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for anyone who would like to visit the Button Chair. The chair is provided to us by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. There are buttons that people can press and hear the stories of breast cancer victims and survivors. We were fortunate to have the chair here last year and it was truly inspirational. We are thrilled to be able to offer it again this year,” asserted Robinson.
“If anyone wants more information or is in need of services they can come by the health department, call us at 592-1131 or visit our website: www.sampsonBCCCP.org,” added the health director.