St. Elizabeth Hospital hosts Igniting the Spirit of Pink event for breast cancer

Darian Graivshark
St. Elizabeth Hospital Auxiliary Members helping guests sign in to the event.

Detect it, treat it, and defeat it.

One in eight women are at risk for being diagnosed with breast cancer. In Louisiana, we have the second highest mortality rate for breast cancer. The highest risk is for cervical cancer. This is because most people do not have the access to the care that they need, or maybe they just can't afford it.

On October 5, St. Elizabeth Hospital presented an afternoon of celebration, education, and inspiration with their event called Igniting the Spirit of Pink.

St. Amant High School Small Vocal Ensemble sang the song "Never Turning Back," which was something they all felt spoke true against the battle of breast cancer.

Carley Oakley, the Choir President, said, "We're here to make you feel something."

Charla Johnson, RN, said, "It's time that we think of our health and the people in our lives. Today, we have guest speakers to help guide you, or guide others, in the right direction of detecting and treating."

The first guest speaker was Michelle Derouen. She works with mammography in St. Elizabeth Women's Health Center.

"In Medical Plaza II, Suite 1060, we offer Breast Health Services, like mammograms, and accept walk-ins," Derouen said.

To schedule an appointment, or to receive more information about services, call 225-647-5008.

The second speaker was Denise Cox, a Nurse Navigator and RN for LSU School of Public Health with the Louisiana Breast and Cervical Health Program.

"With our program, we try to help people who can't necessarily afford care or a diagnosis. We started a pilot program in August, which requires us to go to places like food pantries in New Orleans. Since then, we've seen about 905 people in New Orleans. Some are homeless, while others have just lost their jobs," Cox said.

The biggest challenge for them is making sure the individuals they speak to actually make it to their appointments. To do that, they have offered to pay for their bus tokens so they can get examined. Five individuals have been screened and cleared within the last two months, while one has actually been diagnosed with breast cancer and will be receiving treatment.

"If cancer is found, we assist patients in receiving Medicaid, or other ways to help fund their treatment. We don't turn anyone away, and our main focus is towards the uninsured or underinsured," Cox said.

Jennifer Cortes, the Mission and Strategic Outreach Coordinator of Susan G. Komen Baton Rouge, was the third speaker. Cortes was speaking on behalf of the Breast Cancer Treatment Assistance Program that has been implemented this year.

"Our program offers a $300 dollar stipend for those who qualify. To qualify, you must first have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Second, you must be actively seeking or receiving treatment. Lastly, applicants must be 250 percent below the federal poverty level. If you qualify, the money helps pay for oral medication, child care, and durable medical equipment, to name a few," Cortes said.

To find out more information about this program, visit

The last speaker was Rachel Mumphrey, a Social Worker and the Survivorship Coordinator for Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center.

"We saw a need for care in the Ascension area, so Mary Bird has started giving assistance in the area. We're aiming to create a full life for people before and after their cancer diagnosis. Mind body medicine is what we focus on the most. So, we look at how the mind affects the body, like how your stomach hurts when you are anxious. Finding ways to reduce stress can help reduce an upset stomach in those instances," Mumphrey said.

Mumphrey also visits the Donaldsonville area every Tuesday each month to do support groups there, which helps lessen the travel burden for cancer patients in the area.

Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, it's important to get out there and get examined. Both men and women are affected, so always be sure to bring awareness to it.

The event concluded with a candle lighting and the reading of those who have passed during their battle against cancer.

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