Fighting Breast Cancer

Fighting Breast Cancer

Reception held to kick off Breast Cancer Walk.

If it were not for the efforts of people like Vola Lawson, Lisa Baker, Jen Harris and Renee Roberts, breast cancer would be much more of a threat to poor women in Alexandria. Because of their efforts and because of the financial support of people like Ed Mensh from Safeway and Ron Beller, American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), women in Alexandria are able to get free mammograms and treatment.

"ASCO is an organization that is dedicated to improving cancer care and prevention worldwide so we've become enthusiastic supporters of the Alexandria Walk to Fight Breast Cancer," said Ronald E. Beller, PhD, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.

"We know how important screening tests such as mammograms and the early detection they afford to women. We are particularly proud that proceeds from the Walk allow women in our community to receive these potentially life saving services who might not otherwise have access to them."

"Safeway is involved in the lives of our customers and our community. We know from personal experience that breast cancer has touched the lives of virtually everyone. That's why breast cancer is one of our top priorities in charitable giving. We raised about $3.5 million last year in our stores to fight breast cancer and were major sponsors of the Komen Race for the Cure events in all our markets, including Washington. So with nine Safeway stores in Alexandria, we are proud to partner with our shoppers and our community to support this cause locally through a presenting sponsorship of the Walk to Fight Breast Cancer for the third straight year," said Greg Tenyck, director at Safeway.

BELLER, MENSH AND OTHERS came together last month for a reception to kick off the annual recruitment efforts for the Alexandria Walk to Fight Breast Cancer. It was held at the home Joe Viar in Mount Vernon, a long-time supporter of Inova Alexandria-affiliated events. Beller and Mensh each contributed $10,000, bringing the amount of sponsorships to more than $30,000; the goal this year is $150,000.

Ken Kozloff, administrator of Inova Alexandria Hospital, thanked the attendees for their support and asked them to each recruit five more sponsors for the walk.

"Those of us who are cancer survivors want to thank you," Kozloff said. "We couldn't do it without you. Realize the power of connecting with people and let them know how important this is."

Vola Lawson then addressed the crowd, which included state Sen. Patsy Ticer (D-30); City Councilwoman Joyce Woodson and City Councilman Paul Smedberg. Lawson explained how she got involved with the cause when she was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years ago. Lawson had a double mastectomy, but she is now a survivor, thanks to early detection.

"Ten years ago, a mammogram saved my life. I was lucky because it [the mammogram] caught it and I had wonderful support from friends and family. I knew, though, that there were a lot of women who didn't have the insurance to get a mammogram. I knew we needed to do two things — raise money and raise awareness," Lawson said.

TO ACHIEVE THIS, she met with community representatives to investigate ways to encourage early detection and treatment of breast cancer. The result was the initiation of The Walk to Fight Breast Cancer.

"The first walk was in Eisenhower Valley. We had 200 people and raised $14,000. Last year we had more than 1,600 people and raised more than $127,000. We have served 200 local women in Alexandria. Lord knows how many women we saved," Lawson said.

All the revenues from the walk go entirely to help low-income women to get mammograms and have follow-up procedures.

While the Alexandria Cancer Breast Fund is managed by Inova Alexandria Hospital Foundation, it's the City of Alexandria Office On Women that coordinates the walk.

Lisa Baker, director of that agency, also spoke to the crowd, announcing the goal of $150,000. She thanked her staff and all the volunteers who help make the walk successful. Baker also announced that the Sponsor Breakfast will be held at The Campagna Center on Oct. 7.