LEWISTON – Lewiston Mayor Lionel C. Guay Jr. hosted a press conference, joining other mayors across the country participating in the Mayors Campaign Against Breast Cancer, a national initiative first launched by the U.S. Conference of Mayors in 1997.

Guay said, “Except for skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women; however, if detected early, survival rates are very positive for localized breast cancer.”

Guay also signed a proclamation designating October 2004 as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Wednesday, Oct. 15, as National Mammography Day in the city, urging individuals to be actively involved in regards to their own breast health.

At the event, breast cancer survivor Jean Libbey, accompanied by fellow survivor Jeanine Gagne, shared inspirational comments and encouraged women to “Go Get That Mammogram.”

Libbey added that she had once thought,'”Breast cancer will never happen to me” but was diagnosed in 1998 with Stage 3 breast cancer, adding that early detection would have made her recovery journey much easier to undergo. Libbey is a “Reach to Recovery” volunteer for the American Cancer Society, as well as volunteers at the Sam and Jennie Bennett Breast Care Center at Central Maine Medical Center.

Kathi Varney, family nurse practitioner and clinical coordinator at the Bennett Breast Care Center, shared some of the barriers women face, such as fear of the unknown or finances, in regard to obtaining screening and mammography, along with ways those barriers can be overcome.

Attending from St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center were Dr. Elena Theodosiou of Hematology/Oncology and Pamela Sirois, RN, MSN, ANP-BC of the Regional Center for Cancer Blood Disorder. Both stressed that there are various effective ways for women to treat, cope and survive breast cancer.

Also on hand was Diane Jackson, regional representative for Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, who said the senator introduced the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 2003, Senate Bill 1730, to aide women in their own health care.

Informational materials were available, along with “Early Detection is Your Best Protection” vehicle magnets that were donated at the start of the press conference by Graphic DeSigns by Skip, Lewiston.

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