By TEDDYE SNELL
Fall may call to mind muted tones of brown, red and orange, but local health officials hope to soon see Tahlequah awash in a sea of pink.
Pink is the designated color for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and health care providers like Tahlequah City Hospital, Cherokee Nation Hastings Hospital and Cherokee Elder Care are offering events and services to observe the occasion.
According to the American Cancer Society, in 2012, it’s estimated that among U.S. women, there will be 226,870 new cases of invasive breast cancer, and 39,510 breast cancer deaths.
Getting regular screening tests – which includes self-examination and mammograms – is the best way to lower the risk of dying from breast cancer.
During October, TCH is offering mammograms for a flat fee of $75. The focus is to educate women, and those who love them, about the important benefits of early breast cancer detection.
According to Misty Brenan, TCH mammography technician, many women fail to have annual screenings, which results in a higher cancer rate.
To participate in TCH’s program, women must be at least 40 years of age and have a signed physician’s order. To make an appointment, call (918) 772-4588. Appointments may be made for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday; or from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 27.
NeoHealth is hosting a Breast Cancer Awareness Fair from noon to 4 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 25, and 8 a.m. to noon Friday, Oct. 26, in the Tahlequah Medical Center Building. The event will include refreshments, and staff will be passing out literature about breast cancer prevention and other women’s health issues.
Cherokee Elder Care is planning a Breast Cancer Awareness Balloon Launch for 11 a.m., Friday, Oct. 19, at the Cherokee Courthouse Square. According to Katina Dugger, CEC education liaison, CEC participants, their families and employees, along with Indian Capital Technology Center nursing students, all of whom will be wearing pink, will meet at the square gazebo for a Pink Walk. After walking once around the square, participants will release hundreds of pink balloons, each one honoring a friend of loved one who has or had breast cancer.
“Cherokee Elder Care is providing breast cancer education and awareness to our enrolled participants during the week of Oct. 15-19,” said Dugger. “All CEC employees and participants are encouraged to wear pink that week. Barbra Neal, from Cherokee Nation Cancer Programs, will provide breast cancer education.
Other planned activities at CEC include a “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” fashion show, in which male CEC program participants will strut their stuff in pink clothing; program participants will also be making flower arrangements, which will be donated to the cancer center.
For more information about events at Cherokee Elder Care, call (918) 453-5554.
Cherokee Nation Hastings Hospital is offering same-day mammograms one day per week throughout the month of October, according to Susan Wood, supervisory clinical nurse in the OB/GYN Clinic.
“Also, a Center for Disease Control representative will have [an educational display] in front of our clinic Friday, Oct. 26, and will be giving away donated items,” said Wood. “It’s very important for ladies to get that baseline mammogram at 40, or sooner if you have a family history of breast cancer; then once a year after 40.”
Wood said breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among Native American and Alaska Native women.
To learn more about programs available at Cherokee Nation Hastings Hospital, call (918) 458-3100.
TCH, Northeastern State University and The Branch are teaming up to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research. On Saturday, Oct. 20, the trio will host a tailgate party for NSU’s “Pack the House Pink” event, which begins at The Branch before the 2 p.m. NSU football game. Attendees of the game at Doc Wadley Stadium are encouraged to wear pink.
Residents visiting TCH may have noticed an abundance of bright pink gloves on the hands of caregivers this month, which serve as a reminder to patients and others about breast cancer.
Also, TCH Administrative Radiology Director Debbie Travis has been spotted driving a bright pink vehicle recently. The car is also covered in breast cancer awareness messages and is garnering a good deal of attention.
“The car is great,” said Travis. “You just can’t miss it.”