Celebrating of 10 years of saving lives through cancer early detection
(Baton Rouge, La.) A decade ago, Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center launched a community health initiative, Fest for Life, which today has grown into a large-scale event that has screened more than 4,800 people for cancer and other diseases. Hundreds are expected for this year’s tenth anniversary of Fest for Life, Saturday, April 22 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Bon Carre’ Business Center, 7359 Florida Blvd., where free cancer screenings and tests for other diseases, health education and resources, food, entertainment and more will be offered for the entire family.
Fest for Life began in 2008 as a way to provide racial and ethnic minorities and others disproportionately impacted by cancer with free, easy access to potentially lifesaving services. Over the last few years, Fest for Life’s audience has expanded to offer even more people, regardless of minority or insurance status, convenient access to early detection services.
East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, who is serving as the 2017 honorary chair of Fest for Life and has been involved with the event since its early years, commends the Cancer Center for its efforts, especially with Louisiana residents experiencing some of the highest cancer mortality rates in the nation.
“There is a growing need for these kinds of early detection and education services, and in many cases people would not receive them if it weren’t for Fest for Life. Because of this event, cancers are being caught early; lives are being saved,” said Broome. “I’m so proud to be a part of this effort. Its impact is really immeasurable because not only are many people in the Greater Baton Rouge accessing screenings, early detection programs throughout the country are emulating this model to deliver their services. ”
Johnnay Benjamin, director of early detection and education for the Cancer Center, says 15 people have been diagnosed with cancer through Fest for Life, and other diseases have been detected as well.
“Fest for Life’s focus is certainly on cancer early detection, but its scope goes beyond this one disease and addresses the many health problems impacting our city’s residents,” said Benjamin. “In addition to cancer, mortality rates continue to soar due to conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes, and we provide screenings for all of these diseases.”
In addition to the health aspects of the event, Benjamin says that there has always been a focus on making Fest for Life an outing that the whole family can enjoy. Food, entertainment and children’s activities are all included at no cost, thanks to Karnival Krewe de Louisiane, the event’s presenting sponsor, along with other generous donors. As a special attraction in celebration of the 10th anniversary, Broome will kick off a second line parade at 9:45 a.m. at the event.
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. 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 marybirdlake.org.
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™. 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 mbpolol.org.