Cancer Center’s Annual Fest for Life Event Relocates to Downtown

Cancer and other health screenings, food, fun and entertainment are mainstays


(Baton Rouge, La.) After hosting more than a decade of cancer screenings in a fun, festive environment, Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center’s Fest for Life will return Saturday, April 13 in a new location: downtown Baton Rouge. With the goal of continuing to save lives through early detection while providing fun for the whole family, this year’s event will be held from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on 4th St. between North St. and Spanish Town Rd. In addition to health screenings, the event will include music, free t-shirts while supplies last, fun activities for children and adults and the chance to win prizes.

Johnnay Benjamin, director of early detection and education for the Cancer Center, says 21 people have been diagnosed with cancer through Fest for Life, and other diseases have been detected as well.

“The relaxed, family-friendly environment at Fest for Life takes some of the fear out of cancer education and early detection,” said Benjamin. “Moving the event to the downtown area will enhance this experience and let families add to an already amazing day at the farmer’s market and Blues Fest, which are also set for April 13.”

Since 2008, more than 5,400 individuals have been screened for cancer at Fest for Life, a free health event that includes cancer screenings, food, children’s activities and entertainment for the entire family. Free cancer screenings include colorectal, breast, prostate, skin and oral cavity. All screenings are available to those who have not been screened for cancer in the past 12 months. Appointments are required for breast cancer screenings only.

While the focus of Fest for Life is always on cancer education and early detection, the event goes beyond this one disease and addresses other health problems impacting our city’s residents. In addition to cancer, mortality rates continue to soar for conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. As a result, blood pressure and glucose checks will be offered.

Tonja McMillan understands the importance of early detection after discovering a lump in her breast during a self-examination. “Early detection saved my life. I had put off going to the doctor because of my busy schedule, taking care of my son and managing my hair salon. Luckily, one of my clients mentioned the free screenings provided by the Cancer Center and I knew if I didn’t go now I never would,” said McMillan.

Fortunately, McMillan’s cancer was detected an early stage and has an excellent prognosis. She is serving as the honorary chair for the 2019 Fest for Life event.

“Tonja is just one example of the power of early detection and the importance of being proactive if you have the slightest feeling that something isn’t right,” remarks Benjamin.

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


About Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center
As a regional destination for cancer care, Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center offers the most advance technology and services provided by a dedicated team of nationally-recognized oncology experts. The Cancer Center provides best-practice, comprehensive care at every stage of the cancer journey, including disease site-specific multidisciplinary care teams, a robust clinical research program, extensive supportive care services and is the only facility in the Gulf South with the revolutionary Leksell Gamma Knife®Icon™. The American College of Surgeons has named the Cancer Center a recipient of its prestigious Outstanding Achievement Award for three consecutive survey cycles. As a nonprofit organization, donor generosity is essential to sustaining the mission of improving survivorship and lessening the burden of cancer for so many throughout Southeast Louisiana and beyond. For more information on the Cancer Center, and how you can become involved, please visit