WILLIAMSON – A luncheon was held Monday at the First United Methodist Church in downtown Williamson in honor of West Virginia Breast Cancer Awareness Day.
The room was a sea of pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness. More than 30 people clad in pink attire were in attendance at Monday’s luncheon. The tables were covered in pink and long stemmed pink roses, which were given to breast cancer survivors at the end of the event, were placed in vases throughout the room.
At noon, Barbara Van Zant called the luncheon to order. Williamson Mayor Robert Carlton welcomed those in attendance. “I want to welcome everyone to this meeting…As we go through life, we reflect on memories and attend memorial services like we just did, it gives us a much more keen awareness of what everyone goes through in their life…” Carlton stated.
Following the welcome, Reverend Jerry Shields, Pastor at the First United Methodist Church, provided a prayer and blessing before lunch was served.
While guests were enjoying lunch, the guest speaker, Vicki Hatfield, Nurse Practitioner at the Williamson Health and Wellness Center was introduced. Hatfield provided helpful information concerning breast cancer and the importance of screenings and early detection. Guests were provided with a 2016 Breast Cancer Awareness true or false quiz that Hatfield used as a starting point to elaborate on key facts associated with breast cancer awareness. Hatfield also stressed the importance of early detection. “Breast cancer is the most common cancer that affects women, but it is also one of the most treatable cancers. Frequently, I will have someone that hasn’t had a mammogram say, ‘Oh, if I had cancer, I wouldn’t want to know it.’ That is when I am able to tell them that breast cancer advances have been so great and it is one of the most treatable cancers there are. Breast cancer caught in an early stage has a 98 percent survival rate after five years survival,” Hatfield said.
Following the guest speaker, the Mingo County Commission read a proclamation declaring October to be Breast Cancer Awareness Day and Month in Mingo County. The proclamation will be signed at Wednesday’s regular meeting of the Mingo County Commission.
After the proclamation, Bernice Johnson, RNC with the Mingo County Health Department provided remarks and discussed the history of Breast Cancer Awareness Day in Mingo County. “21 years ago, we had our first Breast Cancer Awareness Day…It has been wonderful that we have been able to work together and have this ceremony every year.” Johnson thanked the Williamson Women’s Club and the Matewan Women’s Club for assisting in the yearly event.
After Johnson’s remarks, Dana Wright with the Williamson Women’s Club completed the wreath hanging ceremony and explained the meaning of the wreath. The wreath will be moved and displayed at the Mingo County Courthouse throughout the month of October. “The first West Virginia Breast Cancer Awareness Day was held on October 2, 1995. On that day, hundreds of West Virginians gathered at courthouses and other sites in every county of the state to demonstrate a commitment to fight the disease that has claimed the lives of many men and women. Various community organizations and public health organizations, led by the West Virginia Breast Cancer Coalition held wreath hanging ceremonies to raise awareness of breast cancer and to call to attention the need for early detection,” Wright stated.
After the hanging of the wreath, a candle ceremony was conducted by Christa Atkins with the Williamson Woman’s Club to honor those with cancer.
Following the candle ceremony, those in attendance joined together to read the “Prayer for the Conquest of Cancer.”
The event concluded on a light hearted note with cake and door prizes.
(Courtney Harrison is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242 ext. 2279.)