October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, an opportunity to learn more about breast cancer, but for the second consecutive year, a popular forum for sharing information in the Roanoke Valley has been canceled.
Sisters’ Night Out, traditionally held the last Thursday in September and attended by more than 200, will not be held because of the surge in coronavirus delta variant cases.
Organizers, however, are encouraging individuals to take note of the available information, resources and opportunities for breast cancer screening that may be available in October and throughout the year, and to get annual mammograms.
“Based on how COVID-19 has impacted us, the format of gathering may become a thing of the past for the safety of the attendees,” Linda Manns, community health faith nurse at Loudon Avenue Christian Church, wrote in a letter to SNO participants.
“COVID-19 has brought about many changes and has caused us to look at how we move forward,” she said, adding that the potential risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and COVID-19 spreading is higher during interactions at large gatherings.
“A good majority of our target population have a weakened immune system, and/or if they have cancer, they have a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. So, although we will not meet in person, we can still continue sharing educational information on breast health with a focus on emphasizing the importance of early detection, treatment, and a sharing of resources in the community for the uninsured and underinsured,” Manns wrote.
“Breast cancer is a leading cause of cancer death among African American women, and by far the most common cancer among all women, Black or white,” according to a news release.
“We have found that among our breast cancer survivors, the survival rates continue to climb due to better treatments and increased screening that finds cancers when they are most treatable. With women becoming more knowledgeable about warning signs, the importance of self-exams, treatment options and second opinions, they are better prepared than ever before to confront a breast cancer diagnosis,” the release said.
Sisters’ Night Out has been supported by the American Cancer Society for nine years and has been sponsored by numerous medical and community organizations.
“We may not be able to meet as previously but we can still spread the word that early detection and treatment can save lives,” Manns said, encouraging those affiliated with Sisters’ Night Out to contribute to Breast Cancer Awareness Month by: spreading the word about the importance of screenings; learning more about breast cancer symptoms, how to detect them and sharing their knowledge.
Manns’ letter said that during October, many insurance companies as well as Medicare cover annual mammograms for women over 40 and for women over 30 years who are considered “high risk,” which can mean a personal or family history of breast cancer, BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations, or other health issues.
For women without health insurance there is Every Woman’s Life, a Virginia Department of Health program that helps uninsured, low-income women gain free access to lifesaving breast and cervical cancer screenings and services.
Eligible women receive a clinical breast exam, mammogram, pelvic exam, Pap test, and any other related services required, all at no cost. If a woman enrolled in Every Woman’s Life is diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer, she may be eligible for Medicaid to pay for treatment.
Contact JoAnne Poindexter at email@example.com.