"We were happy to see so many community members and ANB/ANS members come out to help us raise awareness about breast cancer," said Georgie Reese, a SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Community Wellness Advocate who organized the event for SEARHC Kake Health Promotion.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and cancer has had a growing impact on Alaska Native communities. The walk followed a short, flat course from the Kake Community Hall to Gunnuck Creek and back, a half-mile each way so it make it accessible for elders and youth. Among those walking were ANB Grand Camp President Dewey Skan of Klawock, ANS Grand Camp President Johanna Dybdahl of Hoonah, and several city and tribal officials. The walk was held in memory of Debra Thomas, a cook at the Kake Senior Center and longtime teacher's aide at Kake Elementary School, who was 49 when she passed away in August after a lengthy battle with breast cancer. Many of her family members also took part in the walk. The walk also honored all women (and some men) who have been diagnosed with the disease. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and second-leading cause of cancer death (after lung cancer) among women. Early detection of breast cancer through regular breast self-exams, clinical breast exams and mammograms can increase the chances of long-term survival. All women are encouraged to get a complete annual health screening, which includes a heart health exam in addition to the breast exams.
For more information on the walk, contact Georgie Reese at 785-3260. For information on how to schedule annual women's health screenings, contact the SEARHC Kake Health Center at 785-3333 or the SEARHC Women's Health Program at 1-888-388-8782. For online information on the SEARHC Women's Health Program, go to www.searhc.org/womenshealth/.