CHESTER - The $1,535 raised Friday during a benefit auction for the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program will help provide cancer screenings, ultrasounds, biopsies and physician follow-up services for many women in Hancock County.
Mary Lawrence of Chester, a breast cancer survivor, has organized a local fundraiser, Holding Hands for Hope, for several years. This year she sought donations of new and "garage sale" items to add a live auction to the event. Local auctioneer Bennie Parr volunteered his time for the auction at the Chester Municipal Building.
At the start of the event, participants encircled the flower garden at the Chester Municipal Building to remember those who lost their battles with cancer and to support those who are fighting the disease. After a moment of silence, the group released helium balloons.
HOLDING HANDS — At the start of the Holding Hands for Hope auction Friday, participants encircled the flower garden at the Chester Municipal Building to remember those who lost their battles with cancer, and to support those who are fighting the disease.
-- Nancy Tullis
"I'm happy with the turnout and the money we made," said Lawrence.
She said rather than using proceeds to make a general donation that would go toward cancer research efforts nationwide, she chose a beneficiary closer to home, and one specifically geared toward helping low-income, uninsured or under-insured women to have the breast and cervical cancer screenings and other medical care that assists in cancer prevention and early detection.
Sophie Eastham, a registered nurse with the Hancock County West Virginia Department of Health, coordinates women's health programs at the health department in New Cumberland. She said the donation is greatly appreciated.
"There was a wonderful turnout for a wonderful event for a great cause," Eastham said.
The local health department offers a variety of services though the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program, she said.
"We just want women to know about the services we offer," she said. "We don't want Hancock County women to go without these critical screenings because they cannot afford to go to the doctor.
"These screenings and the follow-up care are the keys to prevention and early detection."
Eastham said even if women in Hancock County have health insurance, they may be eligible for the health department's services, which are based on household income guidelines. Maximum household income, for example, is $1,862 for an individual, $2,522 for a two-person household, $3,382 for a family of three and $3,842 for a family of four.
Ovarian cancer is one of the types of cancer difficult to detect without the prevention screenings, and one in which the survival rate is much higher when the cancer is detected early, Eastham said.
"During a pelvic exam a doctor or nurse will check the size of the ovaries and can often detect a mass," she said. "With ovarian cancer there are often no symptoms. It is known as 'the cancer that whispers.'"
Eastham said the health department's message for women is to do regular breast self-exams and have mammograms, PAP tests and pelvic exams as advised by a physician.
Any woman wanting to information on the health department's women's health programs, to schedule an appointment or to check on the income guidelines for eligibility may call (304) -564-3343.