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Monday, Sept. 11, 2017

Get Ready to Give Breast Cancer the Boot!

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Komen Race for the Cure 2017

You can help Give Breast Cancer the Boot! at the 23rd Annual Susan G. Komen Northwest Louisiana Race for the Cure (the Race), Saturday, Sept. 30, at CenturyLink Center in Bossier City. Registration is now available online at komennorthlouisiana.org. Thousands are expected to participate. The race offers a one-mile fun run, as well as a competitive 5K and a 10K and is the largest fund-raiser of the year for Komen North Louisiana.

“Seventy-five percent of the money raised stays in a 22-parish area to provide breast health education, screening (mammograms) and support to those diagnosed with breast cancer,” said Kelley J. Matkins, mission coordinator for Susan G. Komen North Louisiana. “The other 25 percent supports national scientific evidence-based breast cancer research.”

“I love how the race committee is embracing our unofficial state nickname, ‘the Boot’ and giving the 2017 race a country theme,” Matkins said. “Expect to see breast cancer survivors in pink cowboy hats, lots of pink bandanas and music from ‘that little ol' band from Louisianne,’ Bayou Boogie, on stage providing early morning, foot-stomping music.”

“It's going to be so fun,” 2017 NWLA Race Chair Aundrea Emerson exclaimed. “We're going western with Louisiana flavor! The Kids for the Cure area has a roundup theme with rodeo-inspired relay races.

We may even do a two-step dance!” Emerson was only 5 years old when she lost her mother to breast cancer. Her mother was 28 years old when she died. “Breast cancer took my mother from me,” Emerson said. “It defines every moment of every day for me. Of course, as a child, I couldn't fully comprehend what that meant. The significance of losing my mother has developed over time, and it's something that I'm still t “We are more than pink and more than a race,” Matkins said. “Susan G. Komen North Louisiana is a local affiliate of a global organization. That means while we are still part of something really huge, like being the largest non-profit funder of breast cancer research, we have a local impact. Money raised here, stays here. We provide local funding for no-cost screening mammograms for women who don't have health insurance, as well as funding for support services like gas cards to help with the financial challenges of traveling to treatment and temporary financial assistance.”

“Breast cancer affects so many lives, and we are continuing the fight,” Matkins said. “According to information from Komen in 2017, it's estimated that among U.S. women, there will be 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer. This includes new cases of primary breast cancer, but not recurrences of original breast cancers, and an estimated 40,610 breast cancer deaths.”

Komen has set a “bold goal” to reduce the current number of breast cancer deaths by 50 percent in the U.S. by the year 2026. “In order to do that, we need to raise money to fund more life-saving local programs and research,” Matkins said. “Unfortunately, we live in a state that leads the nation in the number of breast cancer deaths each year. We want to change that by breaking down barriers to help women get screened. We do that by funding local breast health programs. We are educating women about the importance of annual screenings, and if they can't afford it, we can help.”

“Breast cancer doesn't discriminate,” Emerson added. “It doesn't just affect women or women over 40. Knowing about the signs or symptoms and risk factors are extremely important.”

“Of course, the morning of the race is all about the 5K and 10K down the Arthur Ray Teague Parkway,” Matkins said. “For those who just want to walk a mile, we offer that option as well, but in order to join the fun, people need to get registered.”

The event will have a special tribute area to remember those who have lost their lives to breast cancer. Breast cancer survivors will be recognized by the number of years since their diagnosis. “Survivors are treated to a delicious breakfast for themselves and a guest from Chef Mark and the crew from Bossier Parish Community College Culinary School,” Matkins said. “So many local businesses have donated fun door prizes for our breast cancer survivors, and we are also partnering with the Louisiana State Fair and distributing free rodeo tickets for their Tough Enough to Wear Pink LRCA Finals Rodeo.”

Registration is now available online at komennorthlouisiana.org. To learn more about local resources, call Susan G. Komen North Louisiana at (318) 220-7050.

Kelley J. Matkins, mission coordinator for Komen North Louisiana, encourages all women to be aware of the following:

1. Know your risk:

• Talk to both sides of your family to learn about your family health history.

• Talk to a doctor about your risk of breast cancer.

2. Get screened:

• Talk with a doctor about which screening tests are right for you if you are at higher risk.

• Have a mammogram every year starting at age 40 if you are at average risk.

• Have a clinical breast exam at least every three years starting at age 20, and every year starting at age 40.

• Sign up for your screening reminder at komen.org/reminder.

3. Know what is normal for you:

• See a doctor if you notice any of these breast changes:

• Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area.

• Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast.

• Change in the size or shape of the breast.

• Dimpling or puckering of the skin.

• Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple

• Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast.

• Nipple discharge that starts suddenly.

• New pain that does not go away.

4. Make healthy lifestyle choices:

• Maintain a healthy weight.

• Add exercise into your routine; limit alcohol intake.

• Limit menopausal hormone use.

• Breastfeed if you can.

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