Walk kicks off Breast Cancer Awareness Month

WEIRTON – About 100 area residents of all ages and dressed in pink took a walk Tuesday evening to raise awareness of breast cancer and funds for free or low-cost breast and cervical cancer screenings for women with low incomes.

In its fifth year, the Paint the Town Pink walk is sponsored by C.H.A.N.G.E. Inc. to usher in Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Proceeds from the $20 registration fee and sale of pink T-shirts goes to the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program.

Participants Tuesday gathered outside C.H.A.N.G.E. Inc.’s Family Medical Care health care facility on West Street and walked from there to Main Street and back. As they walked, they passed several businesses that displayed pink ribbons and other reminders of the occasion.

Judy Raveaux, executive director, said this year’s event has received a boost through a $350 donation from Dr. Thomas Brown, a Wintersville dentist, and through the ongoing efforts of the Weir High School volleyball team.

Carrie Magnone, coach, said the team has been collecting donations from local businesses, holding drawings at its games and will donate to the cause proceeds from the Oct. 17 city championship game between Weir and Weirton Madonna. Doors will open at 4:30 p.m for the event at Weir High School.

Magnone said the Madonna volleyball team has joined in the fundraising efforts, as have children at Weirton elementary schools.

Last year the Weir volleyball team raised close to $3,500 for the cause through the Weir-Madonna game and other fundraisers.

Many of the walkers also wore pink rubber gloves supplied by Medline Medical Supplies of Cleveland and signs on their backs indicating a loved one in whose honor they were walking.

Dawn Ohalek, administrative assistant at C.H.A.N.G.E. Inc., said her mother, Ione Zbytovsky, had breast cancer and underwent a radical mastectomy 30 years ago.

“Back then they did that more than anything else,” she said, noting such extensive surgery is much less common, thanks to new technology and early detection.

But Ohalek added her mother survived breast cancer, living to be 94 years old. Because their mother had the disease, she and her sister undergo regular screenings.

Raveaux read a proclamation from Mayor George Kondik declaring October Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Weirton and stressing the importance of early detection in fighting breast cancer.

Shelly Dusic, a health cancer information specialist for the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program, noted an estimated 1,324 women in West Virginia will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and about 282 will die from it. In addition, one in eight women have a chance of developing breast cancer and one in 36 have a chance of dying from the disease.

Dusic noted breast cancer is a slow growing form of cancer and if found during its first three stages, is 95 percent curable.

The American Cancer Society recommends yearly mammograms for women age 40 and older, a clinical breast examination every three years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and older.

Women in their 20s are encouraged to perform self-examinations following the instructions of their health care providers.

Dusic noted the program offers free or low-cost clinical breast exams, mammograms and exams to detect cervical cancer to women who are uninsured or underinsured. They are available at the Family Medical Care health care facility, as well as the Brooke and Hancock county health departments.

For information, call C.H.A.N.G.E. Inc. at (304) 723-2192, Brooke County Health Department at (304) 737-3665 or Hancock County Courthouse at (304) 564-3343.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com.)