Breast cancer awareness first topic of new virtual health series

In the absence of its annual Health Expo, canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Community Health Foundation is bringing health and wellness topics to the people.

The organization will launch Break for Health, a free virtual series that will tackle a variety of wellness subjects. In observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a discussion of breast health will be the first topic, noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15 on Zoom.

“It’s an easy way for people to take in and get answers to health questions,” said Joy Rogers, Community Health Foundation executive director. “We come from the former Community Hospital, which was more of a women’s hospital and that’s part of our roots, so it’s timely.”

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A panel of eight experts will explore various areas of breast cancer awareness including prevention, screening, treatment, support and hope. Nettie Carter-Smith, director of community outreach for the Rocking Horse Community Health Center, will moderate the discussion.

Panelists will include Dr. Jennifer Daniels, a surgeon; Dr. Jyothi Challa, an oncologist; Patty Young, Sisters United for Prevention; Kristyn Campbell, Breast Friends Forever of Champaign County; and Mercy Health breast health specialists. Rounding out the group are breast cancer survivors Sunna Bass and Cindy Griffin.

The audience can ask questions using the chat function during the event.

It’s a busy season for the staff at Mercy Health Springfield Regional Cancer Center, which makes Ann Hembree, case manager and licensed social worker, grateful for this outlet.

One of the center’s most satisfying sounds is the ringing of a bell signifying a patient is now a cancer survivor. That’s why Hembree is happy that survivors are included to give their perspective on the program.

“We are all about awareness and education,” she said. “Even with COVID, cancer doesn’t stop happening. That’s why we really appreciate Break for Health and greatly value working with Community Health Foundation.”

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Rogers was pleased with 100 registrants already signed up by Oct. 7.

“All women have a strong, visceral response to breast cancer. It’s a topic uppermost in people’s minds, men’s too as it resonates with everyone,” Rogers said.

The next program will deal with winter wellness and is set for November. Other series topics include mental health and men’s health at dates to be determined. Rogers also says the format allows people to view during lunch hour in their workplaces, homes or other locations.

“Since we couldn’t do our health expo due to the pandemic, we wanted to provide a means to bridge the information gap and Break for Health is the perfect prescription,” Rogers said. “We want Springfield and Clark County to be a healthy place for people to live, work and play.”

To register for the program, go to www.breakforhealth.eventbrite.com or email Joan Elder at jelder@mercy.com.

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