Mayor Duane W. Dedelow, Jr.

USCM Campaign Motivates Mayor to Initiate ABC. s for LIFE (Awareness of Breast Cancer)

As a result of attending a breast cancer awareness forum at the January 1997 USCM Winter Meeting, Mayor Duane Dedelow became alarmed by the fatalities associated with this disease. In fact, when he returned home - - before even unpacking his luggage - - he met with the Administrator of the Hammond Health Department to plan a mayoral initiative to reduce breast cancer deaths. On a personal level, his concern for his wife, Lori, added to his resolve because her sister is coping with breast cancer.

In launching the "ABC. s for LIFE," Mayor Dedelow issued a proclamation announcing a year-long initiative to alert all women in the community about the need for breast cancer awareness. He explained that "ABC. s for LIFE" has a double meaning: 1) to remember to test routinely for breast cancer throughout life; and 2) to remember that testing can save a life or the quality of one. s life.

Following this announcement, the mayor tapped his wife, Hammond. s First Lady, to serve as Chair and Coordinator of "ABC. s for LIFE." Mrs. Dedelow received support from the state level when the wife of Governor O. Bannon, Judy O. Bannon, joined her on a tour and luncheon held to enlist prominent Hammond women in this initiative.

Forming Partnerships

A leadership coalition was created by recruiting partners from various community strata, thereby giving representation to age, social organizations, businesses, volunteers, and diverse socioeconomic levels, including public housing residents. The Girl Scout troops made pink ribbon lapel pins that were handed out at activities throughout the year. St. Margaret. s Hospital provided exceptionally strong support. Whenever community leaders held awareness sessions, hospital representatives addressed both self-examination techniques and medical ramifications. The hospital also provided free mammograms and transportation, as dictated by need.

Hammond. s First Lady has assumed a lead role with health personnel in raising the level of awareness of the importance of self-examination, annual mammograms, and the dangers of delay. She and Mayor Dedelow continue to host "ABC. s for LIFE" luncheons and community get-togethers where she is often the featured speaker. She has given special attention to reaching low-income women by presiding over seminars at each of Hammond. s five public housing facilities. At each of these sessions and others, hospital personnel have trained women in the techniques of breast self-examination.

Advertising and publicity for awareness events have been handled through newspaper articles, special community publications, press conferences, inserts with paychecks and utility bills, and handouts at city hall and the health department. Additionally, Mrs. Dedelow and Helene Uhlman, the Administrator of the Hammond Health Department, as well as various community leaders, continue to hold open forums on the local radio station W.J.O.B. to promote "ABC. s for LIFE."

City Employees

Concerned about his city employees, the mayor offers free mammograms to all eligible women and also to wives of male workers. In doing so, the mayor provides an example to other Hammond employers.

Resolve for the Future

Mayor Dedelow feels that the battle against breast cancer is not over in Hammond because incidence and deaths from this disease are still unacceptably high. Recognizing this, the mayor continues to stress the need for vigilance and urges all concerned not to let up on promoting the "ABC. s for LIFE."

Contact: Helene Uhlman, Administrator, Hammond Health Department, 219/853-6358.

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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