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Walk kicks off breast cancer awareness
Men and women take part in a Memory Walk on Saturday in observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. One of the participants, back left, is cancer survivor Colleen Martin, who recently was profiled in Liberty Life magazine. - photo by Photo by Denise Etheridge
Get ready, get set

Online registration has begun for the Susan G. Komen Savannah Race for the Cure. The race will be on Saturday, April 16. To register, visit The Coastal Georgia Affiliate of Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is organizing the race.
“It’s always better to prevent something (cancer) than to treat it,” oncology nurse navigator Brandy Payne said.
Payne instructed women how to properly detect lumps through breast self-exams Saturday during the Community Breast Health Celebration at the Army Education Center in Hinesville. The Curtis & Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute oncology nurse demonstrated using rubber molds with hidden lumps, explaining correct technique.
“There’s more risk (for breast cancer) as women get older,” Payne said. “But it can afflict younger women too. There have been two recorded cases of breast cancer in two 13-year-old girls in the U.S.”
The health fair was a joint event between Winn Army Preventative Medicine and the Liberty County Health Department. Eligible women made appointments for mammograms, while other folks were immunized for the flu. Other groups, such as the Coastal Georgia Affiliate of Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, the American Cancer Society, Memorial Health University Medical Center and nutrition and fitness experts, manned booths to discuss health issues with the public.
“The main thing is education,” said Army Maj. William Thomas, a radiologist at Winn Army Community Hospital. “A lot of people don’t know who reads their mammograms.”
Williams said physical exams are also important, but stressed mammography and other imaging, such as ultrasounds, can help detect breast cancer early. Winn has recently started a breast MRI program, he said, and a new women’s imaging center is being built on Fort Stewart.
Williams suggests women get a screening mammogram at age 40, and is of the opinion mammograms should be done yearly.
“From personal experience I’ve seen patients who skipped a year,” he said, adding he’d wished they’d not missed a year.
Williams plans to do a fellowship in breast imaging next summer at Stanford University. Radiology is a field in which “you can make a huge difference and save so many lives,” he said.
“I’m an eight-year breast cancer survivor,” said Pam Cowart, who serves on the area Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure board. “Early detection saves lives. A diagnosis is not (necessarily) a death sentence anymore.”
Cowart said 75 percent of the money raised by the local Susan G. Komen organization stays in the eight-county service area. Twenty-five percent goes to research, she said. Cowart said the group’s service area includes Liberty, Long, Bryan, Chatham, McIntosh, Glynn, Camden and Effingham counties.
“We expect 5,000 people to walk this coming year,” said Susan Adler, race co-chairwoman. “We had 4,000 participate this year and 3,000 the first year.”
Outside the education center the Pink Heals fire truck was on display, garnering more signatures from residents in memory or honor of loved ones who have battled cancer.
Kimberly Maldonado signed the truck in memory of her mother who died of cancer in 2004. Maldonado was accompanied by her daughter Kaitlyn, 8, and son Cameron, 4.
Prior to the breast health fair, a memory walk was held. Health Department supervisor Deidre Howell, founder of the Suzie Q’s breast support group, led a mixed crowd of men, women and children carrying pink and white balloons as they walked briskly from Bradwell Park down Memorial Drive to the education center.
“I get my mammograms every year. I’m 62,” said Ludowici resident Linda Deloach.
Winn employee Bobbie Bibens walked in memory of her aunt who died from breast cancer at age 52.
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