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Women and Cancer in Our Communities

In recognition of October as National Breast Cancer Awareness month, on October 20, 2009 at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Campus Center, the Women of Color Leadership Network, the Everywoman’s Center and the Women’s Health Project at the Center for Health Promotion convened expert panelists including Deborah Shields, J.D., M.P.H, Wilmore Webley, Ph.D., Betsey Garson Neisner, J.D., and Lindsey Rockwell, D.O. to raise awareness, share prevention strategies, and discuss cancer in our communities.

The presenters provided useful statistics, and information on coping. Rockwell, a Medical Oncologist and Hematologist at Cooley Dickinson Hospital offered two key aspects in dealing with cancer-- awareness and fearlessness. Her key message to women: take control, become informed, and learn how to properly take care of our bodies. Shields, the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition, discussed the causes of cancer including obesity, smoking and alcohol, and environmental factors including exposure to hazardous chemicals, Shields cited cosmetic products bought and sold in the US whose manufacturers are not held to strict product testing standards as they are in other countries. Webley, Assistant Professor of Microbiology at the University of MA Amherst, provided the statistic that breast cancer comes in second to lung cancer in being the leading cause of death for women overall. Neiser, the Executive Director of Cancer Connection, discussed the importance of sharing personal stories of triumphs and struggles within the community, not only as a means of personal coping, but as a tool for community organizing and education.
This event was free and open to the public.