Taking action against breast cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and highlights the importance of early detection.

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Posted October 6, 2022 | By Susan Smiley-Height

The Cancer Alliance of Marion County, in partnership with HUGS Charities, works to help and support local cancer patients and their families. The alliance, in recognition of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, recently shared these statistics:

• In the United States, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and it is the second-leading cause of death from cancer.

• In Marion County, the age-adjusted death rate from breast cancer is 14.5 percent, compared to the state rate of 9.8 percent.

• The recommended screening test for breast cancer is mammography, and it has been proven to significantly reduce breast cancer mortality risk by 30 percent. 

• Screening utilization rates for women 40 and older in Marion County are below Florida as a whole and have been decreasing since 2007. Roughly half of Marion County women of screening age obtain their yearly mammogram, but increased awareness of the disease, access to prevention and early detection can save lives.

Amy K. Roberts, a licensed clinical social worker with the Robert Boissoneault Oncology Institute and chair of the alliance, says early detection outcomes may include decreased stress, better quality of life and survival. 

She said those needing assistance to obtain breast cancer screenings locally may find help through Michelle-O-Gram, which provides screenings for the unfunded or needy (michelleogram.com) and the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program, through the Florida Department of Health, which may provide free screenings for those who qualify (floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/cancer/breast-cancer/bccedp.html).

Jennifer McKathan, a regional Cancer Support Strategic Partnerships Manager with the American Cancer Society (ACS), said they provide one-on-one breast cancer support (Reach to Recovery) a 24/7 cancer support hotline, transportation and lodging assistance, and other patient programs and services (cancer.org/about-us/local/florida.html).

The National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc., offers additional information and resources, including a full October calendar of daily discussion topics (nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-awareness-month/).

Some upcoming events in the county include:

• Oct. 8 – Mammography event hosted by the Women’s Club of Dunnellon, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 11756 Cedar St., Dunnellon (FB.com/WCD1922/)

• Oct. 15 – Bunco Babes Ocala Breast Cancer Fundraiser, 7 p.m., Southeastern Livestock Pavilion Banquet Hall, 2232 NE Jacksonville Road, Ocala. Tickets are $25 and available from ladyjeweler.com

• Oct. 22 – Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk/Run, 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., at 703 N. Bueno Vista Blvd., The Villages (makingstrideswalk.org/villagesfl)

• Oct. 22 – HOG Chapter Breast Cancer Awareness Ride, registration begins 9 a.m., War Horse Harley-Davidson, 5331 N. Hwy 441, Ocala; event ends with music, food, raffles and more. Proceeds benefit Michell-O-Gram (warhorseharley.com)

• Oct. 29 – We Can Weekend, education and support event for adults facing cancer, survivors and their families, 8:30 a.m., One Health Center, 1714 SW 17th Ave., Ocala; free to attend but must register by Oct. 15 at eventbrite.com/e/we-can-weekend-tickets-391783393677

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