Praise is the Cure to educate, celebrate
Breast cancer awareness in the African-American community will be the focus of the seventh annual “Praise is the Cure Week of Hope, Health and Healing.”
The event, held Sept. 26 through Oct. 6, focuses on spreading awareness of breast cancer and uplifting African-American breast cancer patients and survivors.
Praise is the Cure is held by the George E. Thorne Development Center and Anita T. Conner, a 14-year breast cancer survivor and Philadelphia-based accountant.
“This is a passion of mine, because we need to get the word out about breast health. The most common cancer among African-American women is breast cancer — and we die of it more than any other ethnic group,” said Conner.
“Even though the percentages are getting better, we still die the most.”
Throughout the years, Praise is the Cure has evolved from a one-day affair where breast cancer information was distributed to 10 area churches, to a week-long event that now encompasses a children’s festival, a day of activities, and the participation of about 100 churches.
The event kicks off on Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 4:30 p.m. at the Abington YMCA, 1073 Old York Road, with the Maddie Movement, Children’s Festival. A second festival will be held Oct. 3 at 4:30 p.m. at Columbia-North YMCA, 1400 N. Broad St. The book “Mommy Has Breast Cancer But She is OK” will be highlighted during the festivals. The book was written by Conner’s daughter, Kerri Conner-Matchett, with the purpose of inspiring women with breast cancer and their young children. Conner-Matchett was also diagnosed with breast cancer.
“The Children’s Festival has become an important component. We also find that it’s been a great venue to teach parents how to talk to their children about difficult things,” Conner said of the festival.
The celebration continues Sept. 30 with Praise Sunday at 100 churches and worship centers throughout the Delaware Valley. During Praise Sunday, participating houses of faith will celebrate breast cancer survivors and raise awareness about breast health through presentations and the dissemination of lifesaving information to their congregations. Conner says they expect to distribute breast health literature to about 15,000 people on Praise Sunday.
“What I’m finding is, you can’t share this information enough. Every year we try to put out a resource tool, but you just can’t get the message out enough. We just want to encourage families to take charge of themselves and their bodies,” Conner added.
The week concludes Oct. 6 with a packed day of activities at Mt. Airy Church of God in Christ, 6401 Ogontz Ave. A community health fair and wellness workshops will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The workshops will be led by representatives from Fox Chase Cancer Center and Living Beyond Breast Cancer. Oncology nurse Connie Sumner will also give a presentation.
Conner is hoping that the information provided will help to dispel myths that surround breast cancer.
Mammograms will be offered during the community health fair, however, participants must register in advance for the service.
A men-only forum titled “Real Men Wear Pink – Taking Care of Others and Yourself” will be held at 3 p.m. The forum, sponsored by Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. features a panel discussion with oral surgeon Dr. Franklyn Scott; gastroenterologist Dr. Steven Blake; health columnist and lecturer Glenn Ellis and radio personality Doug Henderson.
A patients’ and survivors’ pamper party will be held at 4 p.m., where about 200 women will be given spa treatments. A “Sister Talk” session led by Lorina Marshal Blake, president of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation, will be held during the pamper party.
The event rounds out with a gospel concert at 6:30 p.m. featuring Hezekiah Walker and LFC and The Brockington Ensemble.
Since its inception, Praise Is the Cure has reached more than 100,000 Philadelphia-area residents and has raised $200,000 to support year-round program efforts.
Registration is required for certain activities. To register, call (215) 635-1025 or visit www.praiseisthecure.org.