Week stresses importance of minority cancer awareness

By Trina Trice

Black Rex resident Ekaette Hayliger knows her husband's smoking isn't good for him.

To prove to him how unhealthy his habit is, Hayliger stopped by the Minority Cancer Awareness Week fair in the lobby of Southern Regional Medical Center.

"I just wanted to know more about these health things that were provided," Hayliger said. "I wanted to know what I need to do to regularly check my health and learn what I needed to change. I think it's time" her husband "rethink a lot of things, too."

As part of National Minority Awareness Week that began Monday, SRMC nurses and representatives for various health organizations are teaming together to get the word out to residents in metro Atlanta that regular visits to the doctor and healthier living are preventive steps they can take to reduce their risks of cancer.

Gladys Long, special activities coordinator for Bosom Buddies of Georgia Inc., talked to several Hispanic passersby about breast cancer.

"Most of the Latinos that come to this country know nothing about breast cancer and the prevention of breast cancer," Long said.

Bosom Buddies facilitates breast and prostate cancer support groups throughout metro Atlanta.

Providing information in events, such as Monday's fair, is vital for places like Clayton County, Long said, adding "The most important thing is early prevention. This hospital has a big community of nationalities."

Linda Boyd, program coordinator and health educator for the National Black Leadership Initiative on Cancer, Southern Region, talked to people of color, as well as Caucasians, about prevention and early signs of cancer.

Boyd passed out the "Down Home Healthy" book of recipes that shows families harboring a love affair with fatty, Southern cooking how to make their meals healthier.

The book encourages cooking with leaner meats and baking them, instead of frying them. The book also suggests using non-stick spray instead of oil when pan-cooking food.

"We tell them to drink at least eight glasses of water, eat plenty of fruit and vegetables" and eliminate "smoking if they smoke," said Janie Pope, registered nurse at SRMC.

Although Yotin Srivanjarean and Hiro Kojima, program coordinators for The Center for Pan Asian Community Services, Inc., spoke with a few Asians at the fair, they knew they'd have a challenge with spreading the word about cancer prevention.

"You really have to approach them," Srivanjarean said. "It's a cultural thing ? that it's taboo to talk about their health. You really have to talk to them and convince them.

The biggest problem in the Asian community is "the lack of awareness," Srivanjarean said. "Most have to work all the time, so they don't have enough time to take care of themselves."

Srivanjarean said his organization tries to accommodate people as much as they can by visiting them at temples, churches or shopping areas to ensure they learn about cancer prevention.

"We do in our center mammograms, we've been doing it for about three years," Srivanjarean said. "Every month we" test "about 30 women. Two or three more have been found with abnormal" cellular growth.

Jacquelyn Ware, registered nurse and coordinator of the fair, set up a booth that provided information about various clinical trials and studies in which minorities can participate.

Ware is attending the Governor's Walk at Grant Park today and a health fair at Greenbriar Mall in Fulton County on Saturday.

Ware hopes the turnout will be better at the other locations than the small amount that attended the fair at SRMC Monday.

"I was disgusted with the weather, we think it affected the turnout," Ware said. "But if you can educate one person and that one person shares it with another, you make a difference."

Hayliger plans to do just that with her husband.

"I'm going to read" the materials she got at the fair "with him," Hayliger said. "I'm going to say to him ?In your spare time, you read it through, but I'm going to' live healthier ?with you.'"