Deer Park event promotes breast cancer awareness
Among the people who attended Saturday's breast cancer awareness at Deer Park Town Center were survivors, some still battling the disease. Some attended in memory of a loved one, some in honor of a survivor.
Whatever their reasons, they agreed more needs to be done: more research, better prevention, more awareness.
The latter was on the mind of Deer Park Town Center's Regina Verdico when she proposed the event, which she says was designed to promote health and wellness for area residents.
"I want them to have more awareness of preventive care for breast cancer," Verdico said.
That's what co-sponsor Alexian Brothers Health System provided. Hospital representatives handed out information on detection, support groups and overall wellness as part of the event that also included a yoga class, fashion show and children's activities.
The $10 admission benefited the Alexian Brothers Cancer Institute and Bright Pink, an organization that promotes prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women.
Survivors Linda Ewing of Schaumburg and Joyce Gupta of Elk Grove Village volunteer as breast cancer ambassadors for Alexian Brothers Health Care Systems.
To that end, they promote awareness at community events like this, help raise money for the hospital's cancer institute and support for other patients.
"We help them through their journey," said Ewing, who underwent treatment at Alexian Brothers and said she wants to give something back.
Part of their job is encouraging women to do regular self-exams and get mammograms.
"Some people are fearful of getting tested," said Gupta, a 10-year survivor.
"But it's not just, 'Everybody get a mammogram,'" added Ewing, who detected her cancer through a self-exam. "It's awareness of other health aspects ... awareness of changes in our bodies so we can detect it."
For Colleen Kyrychenko's grandmother, the mammogram came too late.
"Everybody gets so occupied with everyday life they don't take the time to get mammograms," said the 37-year-old Buffalo Grove resident who sported a glittery temporary ribbon tattoo in memory of her grandmother and in honor of her godmother, a breast cancer survivor.
She says their experience has prompted her to be more vigilant.
"You should do it when you're young," she said.
Jo Anne Vrtacnik, an Ohio native now living in Lake Zurich, sported a pink T-shirt, jacket and pink laces in her running shoes in honor of survivors back home.
"It (cancer) touches home," said Crystal Joy Abbate, of South Barrington, whose aunt is a survivor.
Abbate and her husband brought their young sons to the event.
"We want to make them aware," she said, "that we all come together as a community to support people."