By Joel Hall
Even at 100 yards away from Upper Riverdale Road, the large, pink ribbon draped over Southern Regional Medical Center in Riverdale is unmistakable.
For the last four years, the hospital has been hanging the 30-foot-tall ribbon over the front entrance of the building to bring awareness to National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The ribbon will hang throughout the month of October.
On Friday morning, workers with Atlanta Rigging Systems in Atlanta drove down I-75 with the more than 9-ton mechanical crane needed to hang the ribbon.
"It captures a lot of people's attention as they are driving by," said Jamie Carlington, public information officer for SRMC. "Husbands will say to their wives, 'I saw that pink ribbon ... did you remember to get a mammogram?' Visitors see it and make comments about how nice it is, so it's a nice piece to have at the hospital.
"It has become a staple in the community and that's what we wanted," Carlington said. "We wanted to remind people, not just women, to get mammograms and things like that, because men get breast cancer, too. This is the ideal time to remind people to do that."
Carlington said that breast cancer awareness is extremely important in Clayton County, because of the high African-American population. While Caucasian women have a higher incidence after the age of 35, she said, African-American women have a slightly higher incidence before the age of 35. And they are more likely to die from the disease at every age, because the cancer is often more aggressive in that group.
In addition to hanging the ribbon, the hospital will have several supporting events for the public, as well as for SRMC employees.
On Oct. 17, the oncology department will have Pink Scrubs Day for its employees. Staff will be encouraged to wear their most creative, pink medical scrubs, with prize baskets given to the winners.
On Oct. 19, the hospital will host a "Pink Tea Party," from 2-4 p.m., in the main lobby. During this community outreach event, Janet Beebee, president of the Breast Cancer Survivor's Network, will speak about the importance of self-breast exams. Demonstrations will be conducted, and there will be an electronic, lump-detection simulator on which visitors and staff can practice.
In addition to learning about self exams, staff from the oncology and public relations departments will hand out various types of teas, pink desserts, and pink ribbons to people in attendance.
On the same day as the Pink Tea Party, the entire hospital staff will have a "Jeans Day" in which -- for a $5 donation, staff members will be allowed to wear jeans for the day. All of the donations will go to benefit the hospital's Breast Cancer Center being built at Spivey Station, off Highway 138.
"The thing about breast cancer is that it has affected everybody in some way," said Carlington. She said she hopes the events will encourage people to see a doctor, if they haven't seen one this year.
For additional information on breast cancer or SRMC breast cancer-related events, go to www.southernregional.com.