NW Harris County breast cancer awareness events
Medical centers throughout the northwest side of Houston are hosting events in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month - including educational opportunities, mixers, fundraisers and activities commemorating women who have been diagnosed in the past.
Houston Methodist Breast Cancer Center at Willowbrook
The facility is going pink for the month, starting on Oct. 1. The pink lighting serves as a beacon to women to be proactive about their health and as a reminder to schedule mammograms, the center’s spokeswoman Sucre Woodley said.
“It’s easy because you can schedule online or just call for an appointment,” she said. “We light our campus pink for breast health awareness and also to remember those who have been affected by breast cancer.”
The center is also hosting a VIP event, “Positively Pink,” by-invitation-only for patients and staff later in the month.
North Cypress Medical Center
The hospital invites the community to its monthly support group meeting, held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 9.
Janet Pollard, oncology social worker, explained that the breast cancer support group started in the fall 2017, shortly after the hospital opened.
“They’ve become a family,” she said. “And for the newly diagnosed, it can be very uplifting to see those journeys.”
The group is for women only, regardless of whether they are patients at the center or not, and meets on the second Tuesday of each month. These open forums give members the opportunity to ask questions and offer a advice to each other.
Memorial Herman Cypress Hospital
The second annual Women’s Health Symposium from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11.
Clinicians will present and answer audience questions on various healthcare topics pertinent to women, radiologist Dr. Karen Gerlach explained.
“Last year’s audience discussion was lively and informative, and we look forward to the same this year,” she said. “We hope all will join us.”
Houston Northwest Medical Center
The hospital is celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness by sending a team to the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure at 6 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6 at Sam Houston Park, 1000 Bagby St.
In addition, the center will host its monthly meeting of the “Care, Share and Be Aware Breast Cancer Support Group” from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Oct.11 in classroom A and B.
Esther Valdez, certified breast cancer patient navigator at the Breast Center, said the group is open to breast cancer survivors and their friends and families.
“As long as you were diagnosed, it doesn’t matter where, our arms are open to you,” she said. “The fellowship is amazing. There are more tears shed from laughing and storytelling than from being sad. It’s awesome to share and be aware of what others are going through.”
There are also bilingual facilitators at the support group. “You have to be there and experience it,” Valdez said. “You won’t leave the same.”
The center also hosts its annual Girl Scouts “In the Pink” meeting, open to a selected troop, parents and leaders.
“The mothers learn as well,” Valdez said. “Oncologists stay behind an answer their questions.”
TOPS Comprehensive Breast Center
With its two locations on the northwest side, 17030 Red Oak Dr. and 13215 Dotson Road, TOPS will host a number of events in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
TOPS kicks off the month by sending a team of employees to the Pink 5K, a run hosted by the Breast Cancer Charities of America at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29 at Rob Fleming and Creekside Park, 6055 Creekside Forest Dr. in The Woodlands.
Throughout September, the center collected notes at all of its locations to attach to balloons for its annual Pink Ribbon Social and Balloon Release, held at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 5 at the facility on Red Oak Drive.
“Every year we release balloons for all of our patients who have breast cancer and for anyone who knows someone who has battled breast cancer,” Raelynn Munsinger, TOPS breast health nurse navigator, said. “Everyone fills out a pink card to honor someone.”
She said about 125 balloons are released, as employees and patients gather for a reception.
TOPS employees will join in a number of fundraising activities for Breast Cancer Charities of America and the American Cancer Society.
“Every week in October, we do something to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” Munsinger said.
TOPS also plans to host “Muffins and Mammograms” during October, for morning patients who can enjoy a coffee and pastry during their visits.
In addition, each TOPS location will be participating in a drive benefitting Breast Cancer Charities of America called “Feeling Beautiful Again.” The program is designed to lift patients’ spirits by giving them a gift of beauty products, Munsinger said.
Boxes will be placed in the lobby for donations of nail polish, eye make-up, lipstick, blush, nail files, jewelry, mints, tissues, journals, adult coloring books and crossword puzzles.
The donations are sent to Breast Cancer Charities of America for packaging.
“They put together beauty bags for our patients, and then give us the bags back to distribute,” Munsinger said.
The centers will all host pumpkin decorating contests near the end of the month with a breast cancer theme. The pumpkins will be on display through November to keep the spirit of Breast Cancer Awareness month alive, Munsinger said. In December, the centers will continue the effort with pink Christmas trees.