As Breast Cancer Awareness Month kicks off, the Sampson County Health Department, in conjunction with the North Carolina Breast and Cervical Cancer Program and United Way, have teamed together for the 17th Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Rally and Health Fair in an effort to promote breast health.
The event will be Oct. 10, from 9:30 a.m. until noon, in conjunction with the Downtown Court Square Festival and Street Fair.
The event will be held downtown around the courthouse at 9:30 a.m., and will begin with a rally. Breast cancer survivor Sandra Cox will share her story, followed by a walk down McKoy Street to the Sampson Center Gym. The health fair will be held inside the gym.
This year, Top Dog Limos will be giving breast cancer survivors the opportunity to ride in the pink limousine instead of walking down McKoy Street to the Sampson Center Gym.
Breast Cancer survivors will be chauffeured by pink limousine from the rally to the health fair. Top Dog Limos is locally owned and operated offering high quality limousine services to eastern North Carolina.
According to Luke Smith, chair of the Sampson County BCCCP Advisory Board and health educator with the Sampson County Health Department, the chauffeured ride in the pink limousine is to show support for all women who are facing, or have faced, breast cancer.
“We will honor breast cancer survivors with a breast cancer walk around the inside of the gym and then we will honor all cancer survivors with a cancer walk,” Smith said.
The health fair will be an opportunity for individuals to obtain information on women’s health issues, such as breast and cervical cancer, as well as other important health matters like diabetes.
“Guests will have a chance to visit with various vendors, obtain valuable information and incentives, and enjoy entertainment,” Smith said.
During the health fair, Smith said the Health Department will conduct a limited number of glucose and cholesterol screenings free of charge.
“We want to bring awareness to women,” Smith stressed. “It’s important they receive information and get screened.”
Sampson County Health Department Nursing Director Kathie Johnson said these fairs are very important — so much in fact, they have been known to help some women learn of medical situations at an earlier stage.
“On several occasions, we’ve had people attend the health fair and due to the information they received, more than one person has decided to come in and go through our program and discover they have health issues,” Johnson said.
Due to privacy issues, Johnson couldn’t elaborate on the situations, but said that is why it is important for women to come and get educated, so they can possibly prevent things from happening or catch issues earlier because of the education they have received.
Johnson added that October and the spring season are usually spike times at the Health Department in the cases of women seeking services.
Other agencies scheduled to be at the health fair are Community Home Care and Hospice, Tupperware, Delta Sigma Theta, Traci Lynn Fashion Jewelry, Southeastern Medical Oncology Center and UCare.
During last year’s event, Smith said there were around 200 in attendance, a number that has grown every year since the fair’s inception.
“We are encouraging everyone, especially survivors, to come out,” Smith asserted.
With the health fair, Smith said BCCCP and the Health Department are hoping to bring more awareness to women’s health issues, especially breast and cervical cancer.
“We are really excited and we hope we can reach more women in the community,” Smith said.
The Sampson County BCCCP Advisory Board’s purpose is to educate the community on the importance of early detection and treatment of breast and cervical cancer. The state program provides free or low-cost breast and cervical cancer screenings and follow-ups to eligible women. They try to provide service to over 12,000 women yearly.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.