Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center hosts free screening event

Staff Report

Many Ascension residents took proactive measures to protect their health by participating in Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center’s fifth annual Live Well Ascension event Oct. 9 at Jambalaya Park.

Renea Duffin, vice president, cancer support and outreach at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, and Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux, welcomed residents to free cancer screenings. Arceneaux serves on the Gonzales Area Foundation advisory board.

Screening for four different types of cancer and other health screenings were available to attendees free of charge. The event was held in conjunction with the Gonzales Area Foundation.

“The Gonzales Area Foundation is honored to help provide potentially life-saving services to the residents of Ascension Parish,” said DeEtte DeArmond, a founding member of the foundation. “The partnership with Mary Bird Perkins is a great fit because we both feel strongly about ensuring area residents have access to the highest level of cancer care services. We thank the community for its support and we look forward to continue bringing Live Well Ascension to our friends, neighbors and loved ones for years to come.”

Live Well cancer screenings included breast, colorectal, prostate and skin, along with blood pressure and glucose checks. More than 110 cancer screenings took place resulting in 7% of participants receiving an abnormal finding at the time of their screening. They currently are being assisted by a nurse navigator to ensure necessary follow-up care is promptly accessed.

“Nationally, we are seeing a lack of access to healthcare, especially cancer prevention, education and early detection services in local communities due to concerns over the pandemic, as well as traditional barriers, including time constraints or other commitments. Unfortunately, this can result in cancers going undetected,” said Heather Johnson, director of early detection and education at Mary Bird Perkins.

“Events like Live Well Ascension provide us the opportunity to offer free education and early detection services on the weekend for the local community in a safe and accessible environment,” Johnson continued. "We appreciate the Gonzales Area Foundation’s support and will continue working closely with them to enhance the health of everyone in Ascension Parish.”

Due to COVID-19, the Cancer Center took extra steps to ensure the safety of both participants and staff. A number of practices were put in place to ensure the safety of everyone, such as increased frequency of cleaning and disinfecting practices for high-touch areas and appointments for all screenings were required to ensure social distancing. All screening participants and staff were required to wear masks.

The Cancer Center offers screenings throughout the year. For more information, call (225) 215-1234 or visit