Pink Ribbon Luncheon scheduled in Pagosa

Survivors of breast cancer will be the guests of honor at Pagosa’s first annual Pink Ribbon Luncheon.

The lunch — set for Thursday, Oct. 16, at noon at the Pagosa Springs Senior Center — has been planned for Pagosans as an awareness-raising event as well as a celebration of local women living with breast cancer, their friends and families. The event has been planned for October in observance of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Co-hosted by Kat Katsos of the Senior Center and B.J. Boucher of the Women’s Wellness Connection of Durango, the luncheon will at once be educational and festive. It is to be a chance for women from around the area to come together to talk, laugh and enjoy each other’s company. And also to learn — Dr. Susan Smith, of Southwest Oncology of Durango, will speak to luncheon guests about protecting their breast health.

But, more important than anything, the meal offers a chance to attendees to pay tribute to and learn from each other. “This event is about celebrating survivors,” said Boucher, coordinator of the Women’s Wellness Connection. “And we also recognize breast cancer survivors as the greatest advocates for early detection,” she said.

Ninety-five percent of women with breast cancer that is detected early will live long, healthy lives, said Boucher. The key is detecting it and getting treatment right away. Every women over the age of 40 should have a yearly mammogram, and according to the American Cancer Society, women with a family history of breast cancer should begin baseline mammograms starting in their 30s. In addition, the American Cancer Society recommends that women begin self-breast exams and clinical breast exams with their doctor in their 20s.

The following statistics, provided by the Women’s Wellness Connection, shed some light on the importance of awareness about breast cancer, not just in the month of October, but at all times:

• In the U.S. 182,460 new breast cancer cases are expected in 2008 and 40,480 deaths from breast cancer are expected nationwide in 2008.

• In Colorado 2,520 new breast cancer cases are expected in 2008 and 530 deaths are expected in Colorado in 2008 as a result of breast cancer.

• In La Plata County about 28 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year. And about eight women die per year as a result of breast cancer.

Again, The key to reducing these numbers is early detection.

Here in Pagosa, women over the age of 40 who have not had a mammogram in the last year may qualify for a free examination paid for by a federally-funded program, overseen by Susie Kleckner at the San Juan Basin Health Department. Last year, Kleckner was able to screen around 75 women in Pagosa. Kleckner told The SUN that this year she expects to see even more women. “We have the funds to serve 110 this year, and if we have more women in need of services beyond that, we’ll be able to get funding to help them as well,” she said. “This is a really important service in our town.”

Come have lunch and be part of the solution that helps reduce the statistics above. The cost for the luncheon is $10, and an R.S.V.P. is required.

For more information about the Pink Ribbon Luncheon, and to R.S.V.P., call Kat Katsos at the Senior Center at 264-2167.

To reach Susie Kleckner for information about breast examinations, call 264-2409, Ext. 25.