Mayor Robert A. Pastrick

Mayor Promotes Outreach to City Employees and Priority Populations

On October 1, 1997, Mayor Robert Pastrick proclaimed Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the City of East Chicago on his weekly radio show. In support of the mayor. s outreach, more than 1,000 pink ribbons - - made by personnel of the East Chicago Health Department - - were distributed to city employees along with educational information during the month of October.

In reaching out to the broader community, over 800 flyers and brochures were distributed throughout the city in neighborhoods where a large number of uninsured, low-income minority women live. Additional distribution locations included the local hospital, the community health clinic, the public library, and all churches. The hospital and clinic also provided free pap and breast exams.

Reaching African American and Hispanic Women

Later in the month, the East Chicago Health Department collaborated with the East Chicago Women. s Commission to sponsor the city. s first "National Breast Cancer Awareness Program." Held on October 17 at one of the local junior high schools, with African American and Hispanic women selected as the target audience, more than 200 women attended.

The awareness program had a religious quality that featured survivors and their testimonies. Clinical aspects of awareness were presented through a breast self-examination video, educational materials, and demonstration of a breast exam on a miniature model that allowed participants to detect a small lump. Light refreshments were served following the presentations.

The mistress of ceremonies was chosen for her expertise in communicating the need for awareness. As a registered nurse, she emphasized the importance of breast self-examination and mammograms, identifying local screening sites in the process. A nurse practitioner who had lost her mother and sister to breast cancer continued in this vein, speaking from a medical as well as an emotional perspective.

Emphasizing the spiritual needs in coping with breast cancer, a guest vocalist was accompanied by her church choir and a three-piece musical ensemble. One of the highlights of the event was a poem written and recited by a resident of East Chicago, Pauline J. Morgan. Entitled "Whispers," it encourages self-esteem and has been requested throughout the year by many in the community.

Contact: Patricia A. Dixon-Darden, Health Administrator, Department of Public and Environmental Health, 219/391-8467.

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The United States Conference of Mayors

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