Cancer Center to Host Annual Health Event, Rededicate Early Bird

A Minority Cancer Awareness Event


(Baton Rouge, La.) The best way to beat cancer is to detect it in its earliest stages; however, for the uninsured and those without adequate resources this can be challenging. However, at Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center’s Fest for Life, free cancer screenings and other health services will be provided at no cost to encourage early detection. The annual event, now in its eighth year, will be Saturday, April 11 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Bon Carre’ Business Center, 7359 Florida Blvd.

Fest for Life, held in recognition of Minority Cancer Awareness Week, offers free access to basic cancer screenings and other health tests and information. Cancer screenings will include breast, prostate, skin, colorectal and oral cavity, along with blood pressure and glucose checks. Food, entertainment and children’s activities are also included at no cost. All community members are welcome. Since Fest for Life’s inception in 2008, more than 3,600 people have been screened for cancer at the one-day event.

“Fest for Life is an event I look forward to every year because it’s a day someone’s life could be saved through early detection,” said Fest for Life Honorary Chairman Mayor Kip Holden. “Every life is valuable and this is an opportunity to make sure everyone gets access to critical screenings. This year will be particularly exciting as we rededicate the Early Bird.”

At the event, Holden will rededicate the Cancer Center’s newly refurbished Early Bird mobile medical clinic. The Early Bird, which began rolling in 2006, is a bus used by the Cancer Center to offer free screenings throughout Greater Baton Rouge communities. Thanks to a $50,000 grant from The Hearst Foundation, the Early Bird is being refurbished to offer greater comfort, efficiency and functionality for cancer screenings. With this gift, The Hearst Foundation challenged the Cancer Center to identify an additional $100,000 from other funders who understand the importance of the mobile cancer screening program. Additional grants of $50,000 each were provided by the BP Future of the Gulf Fund and the Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation.

“Fest for Life is an opportune time to rededicate the Early Bird,” said Johnnay Benjamin, director of early detection and education for Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center. “The mobile unit has become a symbol of the Cancer Center’s early detection and outreach efforts and Fest for Life is the climax of the year for our screening program. The two go hand in hand and are made possible by the generosity of the community.”

All screenings are available to those who do not have a doctor and have not been screened for cancer in the past 12 months, as well as for people who do not have insurance or considered to be underinsured. Appointments are required for breast cancer screenings only. To make an appointment please call (225) 215-1234 or (888) 616-4687. For additional information about this event and other upcoming screenings, please visit


As the regional destination for cancer care, Mary Bird Perkins—Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center offers advanced technology and services provided by nationally-recognized doctors and other oncology health professionals who have dedicated their lives to fighting the disease. The Cancer Center is consistently recognized for its dedication to offering best-practice, comprehensive care at every stage of the cancer journey.