For the last seven years, Methodist Hospitals has put together their signature ‘It’s a Pink Party’ event to raise awareness and educate the public about breast cancer. This year, over 100 men and women were in attendance as the hospital offered chair massages, hand massages, Mary Kay lip care, and a number of different educational resources such as breast self-exams, genetic testing, mammograms, and general cancer research.
The pampering was followed by a 5K walk circling the hospital’s campus. Survivors and supporters alike gathered to praise and encourage one another through their journey and have a bit of fun while doing so. According to Methodist Hospitals Manager of Marketing and Corporate Communications, Evelyn Morrison, 40 to 50 percent of women in Lake and Porter counties don’t get regular mammograms like they are supposed to.
“A lot of ladies are afraid to have a mammogram, so the Pink Party is a way for women to come out with their friends, speak with a technologist and radiologist, and get over their anxiety about having a mammogram,” Morrison said. “We started this to promote screenings and mammograms because catching cancer in the early stages really increases survival rate, so it’s all about education.”
The American Cancer Society was in attendance to help answer any questions that women may have about breast cancer or cancer in general. Research shows that 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Rachelle Anthony, senior manager of hospital systems at American Cancer Society, also wants to reassure women that this means 7 in 8 women will never develop breast cancer.
“At American Cancer Society our job is to save lives, so we’re here to spread awareness around screenings and how women, and sometimes men, need to be consistent in doing their breast cancer screenings,” Anthony said. “It’s extremely important for women to be aware of what their risk is and know the guidelines of screening according to their age and genetics.”
Dena Lopez and Amy Koulianos, mammography technologists at Methodist Hospitals, love being able to bring in the community of survivors and supporters to give them a spa day to relax and have fun. And they want the community to know that thanks to yearly donations from the Chicago Bears and more, financial help will always be available. Not being able to afford it should never be a reason to let a lump go unchecked, so don’t be afraid to ask about assistance.
“This event is a great way to celebrate survivors and educate those who don’t know much about breast cancer because that, in essence, is what will save lives,” Lopez said. “I’ve been at the hospital for 17 years, so there is an emotional attachment with some of the patients who come in yearly. I just want to be able to help in any way that I can.”
“Today we open up our center to survivors to help them feel like they have something to celebrate and be honored for,” Koulianos said. “We’re all very passionate about what we do here. A lot of our patients have been through a tough journey and it makes us feel good to provide them with some pampering.”
Teresa Cruz set up shop for participants to take home some pink ribbon and breast cancer awareness crafts. Keychains, t-shirts, and crocheted items were just some of the crafts Cruz had to offer. As a breast cancer survivor herself, she donated all proceeds to the Pink Ribbon Society.
“I’ve been in remission for three years, and I needed something to keep me busy, so I started making crafts,” Cruz said. “I wanted to donate my services, and I feel good being able to encourage the survivors here and remind them to take it one day at a time.”
Lola McCann is a 92-year-old two-time cancer survivor who is known by the staff as the matriarch of the breast center. She has been on the board of the Pink Ribbon Society since it began, runs a cancer group in Gary, and is an opera trainer. Her secret is to just keep working.
“I don’t care what your job is, if you keep on working and volunteering, whether you want to do it or not—that’s what keeps you going,” McCann said. “You don’t know who you’re going to meet, so don’t give up on people, keep doing what you’re doing.”
The American Cancer Society has two more 5K Younited We Walk events coming up which you can still sign up for! The first one on October 13th at the Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve in Chesterton and the next is on October 20th at Hidden Lake Park in Merrillville.