Louisiana is known for its fun, legendary festivals and events with unique spins on food, music and culture. However, ten years ago, something different premiered in Baton Rouge, offering an innovative approach to presenting cancer and other health topics with the same kind of flair. The annual event, Fest for Life, commenced in 2008, setting a new tone for delivering free cancer screenings, changing the way many people view these tests.
Hundreds are expected for this year’s tenth anniversary of Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center’s Fest for Life, Saturday, April 22 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Bon Carre’ Business Center, 7359 Florida Blvd. And living up to its reputation for a good time, East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome will kick off the event with a with a second line parade at 9:45 a.m. in honor of Fest for Life’s 10th anniversary.
Entertainment, food and games are all are a part of the scene and have become synonymous with the one-day health event, making potentially intimidating cancer screenings, fun.
Longtime Fest for Life participant Sharon Lindsey, a budding screenwriter, says that she began attending Fest for Life in 2013 to help ensure a healthier future. After losing her father to prostate cancer and having had numerous other relatives fight the disease, she takes no chances when it comes to her health.
“Over the years, I’ve brought my sister and nephews with me to Fest for Life because there’s something for everyone,” said Lindsey. “We’ve danced and enjoyed the food, but most of all we attended because of the screenings. It was a relief to know that we are in the clear, and now we are more educated on what we can do to help prevent cancer.”
Each year, Fest for Life offers five types of cancer and other life-saving health screenings and education, along musical entertainment, food, games for the kids and much more—all for free. Since Fest for Life began, more than 4,800 cancer screenings have been performed and 15 cancers have been detected. The event is part of the Cancer Center’s Prevention on the Go program.
Click here for more information on Fest for Life, or call (225) 215-1234.
By Johnnay Benjamin, MPH, Director of Early Detection and Education
Did you know you have the power to help prevent cancer?
A recently-released study, receiving high profile media coverage, explores the age-old adage of nature versus nurture when it comes to cancer and cancer prevention. It reports that 66 percent of the genetic mutations that cause cancer are simple random errors in the way cells replace themselves in the body. While “random cancers” are a part of the picture, it’s important to remember that lifestyle and hereditary factors are still an important part of the equation; the American Cancer Society states that more than fifty percent of all cancer deaths can be prevented.
There are some things you can do to bridge the gap between nature and nurture. While it is known that some cancers cannot be prevented through lifestyle modifications alone, you can still reduce your risk of developing certain diseases by adopting some healthy practices:
For people who may develop cancer as a result of simple random errors in cell division, early detection is still the best way to beat cancer. For breast, skin and colorectal cancers, regular screening tests can increase the chance of finding these diseases early when treatment options and opportunities for long term survival are greater.
While we can’t always control what nature will do, we all have the power to live a healthier life today.
Johnnay Benjamin, MPH, is the director of early detection and education at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. In this role, Benjamin and her team works to ensure that people throughout Southeast Louisiana have access to life-saving cancer screenings, as well as prevention and early detection education of the disease. The Cancer Center’s early detection program reaches 18 parishes through its Early Bird mobile medical clinics.