October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time when area women gather to learn about the disease and community resources available to help fight it.
This Thursday, Oct. 21, “Ladies Night Out,” will be held at the Wytheville Meeting Center. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the program begins at 6 p.m.
The annual event celebrates women of all ages and promotes breast cancer awareness throughout all stages of a woman’s life. It draws women from Wythe and Bland counties, and beyond.
This year’s keynote speaker will be local nurse practitioner Crystal Lowder-Tibbs of First Choice Family Care.
Ladies Night Out has grown steadily over the past two decades. About 45 women attended the first event in 1999. Last year, about 300 women attended the annual event.
According to Vrsansky, a breast cancer survivor, the event’s main mission is to make sure women get annual mammograms.
“We have a higher incidence of breast cancer in Wythe and Bland counties and worst outcomes typically because women are not getting tested and diagnosed enough. That’s the reason this whole thing started,” she said. “We want to make women and men aware, so they do get tested regularly,” she said.
Noting having yearly tests gives breast cancer more time to advance, and worsens the outcome, Vrsansky added. And of particular concern this year is that women skipped their mammograms last year because of the Covid pandemic.
Included in every gift bag will be information on Every Woman’s Life, a program sponsored by the Virginia Department of Health that helps uninsured and low income women gain access to free breast and cervical cancer screening services. Screening and early detection reduces death rates, improves treatment options and greatly increases survival.
Vickie Sage, outreach coordinator for Every Woman’s Life, will speak about the program.
Also included in gift bags will be handouts from the American Cancer Society with information on getting information about cancer.
“Basically, if you have a question about cancer, they have a person who can answer it,” Vrsansky said.
In addition to the educational information, the evening will feature all kinds of services and products of interest to women, including health and herbal products, beauty items, arts and crafts, jewelry and vitamins supplements.
There will also be information on prosthetics, bras, rehabilitation services and non-toxic hair products for people going and/or recovering from chemotherapy treatment.
One vendor that Vrsansky is excited about is Primped 365 out of Christiansburg, a business that offers cosmetic and paramedical tattooing.
“She can do eyebrows, and she is excellent,” Vrsansky said. “And she has a huge selection of wigs for women going through chemo. She also does eyeliner and is really good.”
Primped 365 also offers micropigmentation for people with thinning hair, and can create tattooed nipples.
“She’s a true artist; she really is,” Vrsansky said.
Event organizers request that attendees wear a face mask.
“We have many cancer survivors who attend and who may have compromised immune systems; we want to keep everyone safe,” Vrsansky said.
“Ladies Night Out is made possible by the Wythe-Bland Foundation, Wythe County Community Hospital, Virginia Department of Health, American Cancer Society, and Wythe County Breast Cancer Coalition.
To reach Millie Rothrock, call 228-6611, ext. 35, or email firstname.lastname@example.org