By Justin Boron
Sophia Hunt, a 14-year breast cancer survivor with family members who died from cancer, said she tries not to think about the disease too much. But she doesn't let the memory of what she went through slip too far away.
She said she still gets checked every year.
"It's important to know if there is something going wrong," Hunt said.
Catching breast cancer early is what she said saved her from the disease of which the American Cancer Society estimates there will be 211,240 new cases this year.
When caught before it spreads beyond the breast, the five-year survival rate is 98 percent.
Hunt spoke beneath a 30-foot long ribbon draped on the facade of Southern Regional Medical Center in Riverdale.
The ribbon, which took about five hours to hang on Friday, will serve as a visual reminder of October's special designation of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, said Edward Bonn, the president and chief executive officer of the Southern Regional Health System.
"Education and early detection are key to winning the fight against this disease that threatens our mothers, sisters and daughters throughout their lifetimes," he said.
Dr. Jeffrey C. Hines, a gynecological oncologist, said the ribbon meant many things and represented many people who have struggled through cancer.
But mostly he said "the ribbon is the courage among all of us."
Acknowledging those who had passed away from the disease, Hines also said, "they have left a legacy of faith and conviction that we will never forget."
Local elected officials including Rep. Roberta Abdul-Salaam, D-Riverdale, and Riverdale Mayor Phaedra Graham also attended the ceremony.
The hospital will be offering free clinical and educational services to the public throughout the month.
On Oct. 22, free breast exams will be provided by appointment. To register call (770)-541-1111.