Cancer awareness forum celebrating 25th anniversary

Do you have questions about cancer?

You will have a chance to find some answers next week when a broad spectrum of health professionals comes together for a free cancer awareness forum in Courtenay.

The Comox Valley Breast Health Group/Breast Self-Exam (BSE) Clinic is hosting a 25th Anniversary — Breast Health and Cancer Awareness Forum Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the Westerly Hotel.

The evening will feature a celebration of the Comox Valley Breast Health Group's 25th anniversary and then a panel discussion with various health care practitioners.

"We've got some fabulous speakers," said Sharon Urdahl, a volunteer with the Comox Valley Breast Health Group.

Panelists include surgeon Dr. Kathryn Lanuke, naturopathic physician Dr. Deidre Macdonald, Comox Valley Breast Cancer Support Group facilitator Sandra Dupuis, Comox Valley Ovarian Cancer Support Group facilitator Sandi Piper and Debra Muckle, a breast cancer survivor who will share her personal story about detecting her own cancer and the journey she went through.

Dr. Sally Amos from the BC Cancer Agency's Deeley Research Centre in Victoria, who specializes in cancer immunology, will speak about a study she's conducting on how the immune system can recognize and eliminate cancer.

"We're really thrilled these physicians have agreed to be on the panel and receive questions from people," said Urdahl. "Usually, you just listen. This is a more interactive panel."

The forum is free, but seating is limited, and people are asked to pick up tickets at the Westerly.

"We wanted to make sure the forum would be available to women of all financial situations; we wanted it to be open," said Urdahl.

People can pick up tickets at the lobby, and these tickets will be used to draw door prizes, including a four-hour trip donated by Sea Roamer Marine Services Ltd.

The 25th Anniversary — Breast Health and Cancer Awareness Forum is meant to celebrate the Comox Valley Breast Health Group's 25th anniversary and also provide information about prevention and early detection.

"We want to honour our founding members and unite medical practitioners to answer questions in their fields of expertise," said Urdahl.

Urdahl hopes the forum will bring awareness to women about the importance of early detection of breast cancer and ovarian cancer and will get women thinking about living a healthy lifestyle.

"Our mandate is to promote breast health and promote early detection through free Breast Self-Examination clinics, and we've done them for 25 years," she said. "We're trying to stress that early detection saves lives, and it's important to know your body."

The first part of the evening will honour the many people who have given their time to the Comox Valley Breast Health Group in the past 25 years — people such as Anna Stech, Daphne Borden, Lynne Yaskiw, Lynne Prsons, Kuni Spruit, Anne Pokol, Christine Robertson, Isobelle O'Brennan, Donna Ogilvie, Ada Baker, Bodil Krische, Barb Metheral, Diane McLeod, Mary Ellen Werner, Linda MacMullen, Magdalena Sidl, Sheila Acford, Joanne Nash, Rolande Ramsey, Judith Leahy and Joanne Misener, explained Urdahl.

"We really want to acknowledge the work that's been done in the Valley for 25 years," she said. "There are just so many people. They're all volunteers and have given so freely of their time and still do."

The event will then feature a panel discussion and question-and-answer period with the guest speakers, and people are encouraged to bring any questions they would like answered to the forum.

"I think one of the messages we want to get out is reduce your risks whenever possible," said Urdahl. "You can't change your DNA or history ... but you have control over how you live, what you put in or on  your body ... and it's all up to the women."

The forum will be held Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the Best Western Plus The Westerly Hotel and Convention Centre.

The forum is being sponsored by WestJet, Sea Roamer Marine Services Ltd., Krylea Creative Solutions and Hope Afloat dragon boat team.

For more information about the event or to set aside tickets, contact Sharon Urdahl at 250-339-3339 or Ada Baker at 250-334-0345.

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