Pink power: Survivors, organizations observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Flossie Leggett surrounds checkout lane lights in pink wrap as she and other Schnucks associates "paint the store pink" for Breast Cancer Awareness Month on Monday at Schnucks supermarket. (Aaron Eisenhauer)

Flossie Leggett will celebrate her sixth anniversary of being cancer free on Oct. 12. She considers herself "one of the lucky ones." Her form of breast cancer required no chemotherapy or radiation, something she attributes to early detection.

Her October anniversary corresponds to the nationally designated Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a campaign that strives to encourage women to get regular checkups and mammograms and to perform self-examinations.

"I hear women say they can't afford mammograms, but through the Susan G. Komen Foundation or different organizations women are entitled to free mammograms, so there is no reason to not get one," Legget said.

She is doing what she can to paint her place of employment, Schnucks, pink. Through the grocer's companywide campaign, called the Pink Event, she has helped place pink balloons throughout the store, organize food products packaged in pink on the shelves and place pink informational pamphlets in the pharmacy.

What is garnering the most comments, however, is the pink plastic sacks used to bag food by the cashiers. "They are drawing a lot of questions," said Jon Townsend, co-manager of the Cape Girardeau Schnucks.

Missouri is celebrating the month by lighting the fountain at the governor's mansion in Jefferson City with pink light. On Oct. 10, the Saint Louis Arch will be lit pink.

According to the American Cancer Society, the chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer sometime during her life is about 1 in 8. Invasive breast cancer is expected to affect 178,480 women in 2007.

The American Cancer Society co-sponsored an educational day Monday with the Cape Girardeau Surgical Clinic & Breast Center to focus on prevention. Topics discussed included risk factors for breast cancer, key elements of early detection and treatment options.

"We know that when a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer she can have a hard time hearing and understanding what she needs to know. If that is established before a diagnosis, she has a better chance for survival," said Sarah Holt, an administrator at the surgical clinic.

Lori Schlichting attended one of the sessions and said she was surprised to learn that patients can't always feel a lump when there is malignant tissue; it takes a mammogram.

This was the first year for the event, but Tracy Mohdzain hopes the program will grow. She has a co-worker who is a breast cancer survivor.

"I want to be there to support her and learn what she went through," Mohdzain said.

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