Making Your Mark: Education and hope in the fight against breast cancer in Hampton Roads

13News Now LaSalle Blanks has the story

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (WVEC-TV) --  When Valerie Young walked into the local office of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, workers were thankful. Valerie does not have breast cancer, but Breast Cancer Awareness Month drew her to seek information to help spread awareness to members of her church -- Campostella Heights SDA in Norfolk.

New information about how breast cancer is impacting African-American women in Hampton Roads has Susan G. Komen workers reaching out to churches in an effort to reduce an alarming situation.

"The Tidewater area is number 4 in the country in breast cancer disparities," said Lisa Chacon, a Susan G. Komen worker. "Meaning that we have a very high rate of African-American deaths due to  breast cancer and we need to find out what that means and bring it down. And we do know that early detection is the key to survival."

So, they were more than happy to give Valerie about a hundred packets of information on breast self awareness and breast health to take back to her friends and family at church. Those packets included potentially life-saving information.

"Get screened," said Miki Donovan, Mission Manager for Susan G. Komen. "Which means women from 20 to 39 should have a clinical breast exam and a mammogram every year. And anything that's abnormal, people should go to the doctor."

Their goal is to help the breast cancer fight with empowerment and education. This is the time of the year when their offices get flooded with phone calls and visitors, like Valerie, which they view as a golden opportunity to save lives. But, there's more that's going on at the office. They also organize fundraisers throughout the year to give funds to local programs that provide life-saving screenings. Some of the money also goes to provide transportation for those living with breast cancer to get to those screenings. And, it also goes towards cancer research. 

One of their biggest fundraisers is coming up. "The Race for the Cure" is Saturday, October 15th, at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.

"Since we've started we've put over 5 and-a-half million dollars back into the community for diagnostics and treatment support, transportation, anything the woman or man is going through in their breast cancer journey," Lisa said. 

This time of the year, they also reunite with people who they've helped get through their breast cancer battle -- people like Nettie Demory-Falcon, who will lace up her sneakers to once again join The Race for the Cure. 

"I've met so many wonderful people," Nettie said. "I think they're doing a great job. All of them. And not only for me, but what they're doing for the community."

For more information, call the local office of the Susan G. Komen Foundation at (757) 490-7794.


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