Early cancer prevention event reaches out to the community

Survivors Photo by Samuel Johnson

Coalition of public and private sponsors brought a cancer awareness event to Tampa. Last Saturday at Robert W. Sanders jr. Library, nearly 100 people came to listen to speakers, meet cancer survivors and participate in educational self-health screenings. Information and access are key ingredients needed to stave off cancer.

Preventative care was a reoccurring theme of the event. Dress for Success, a non-profit women’s advocacy group, helped coordinate the event. Lois Cato volunteers for the group. She’s also a breast cancer survivor. Partly due to her early diagnosis. She said early detection of cancer within the African-American community is a priority.

>“Because African-American women and men as a whole…We’re the ones that don’t go and get diagnosed early. We tend to wait for a period of time. So, it was it was important to come to this particular area because there is a lot of low income and people who don’t have insurance. What we’re providing today is an opportunity for them. (People) who don’t have insurance or have very little insurance and they are not able to get mammograms and Pap smears. We’re letting them know that there are grants out there will allow them to get it for free.”

The specific age women are encouraged to get yearly mammograms has been debated recently. Lois Cato said the consensus is now clear.

>“Several of our speakers touched on that today. It’s always been 50 years old for your mammogram but there are a lot of factors that are involved with that. Actually the age right now is 40 instead of 50. And there are several organizations, such as Mofit (Cancer Center), that start at 40 as opposed to 50. The other factors that come into play are if there is any (family) history. If there is history they will do a mammogram for someone as early as 30.”

Some of the other partners were the American Cancer Society, Florida Health, New You Pink Boutique, Sisters Network, One Blood West, Moffit Cancer Center and Tampa Mobile Mammography. Leadership of this one time event said, due to the successful turnout, it will likely be held again next year.

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