Ladies Night at the HAWC; educating women on health risks, concerns

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- The Health and Wellness Center staff held their 2nd Annual Ladies Night Oct. 19. It's a night devoted to educating women on current health issues and breast cancer awareness. The evening featured a personal story from a 19-year-old cancer survivor, an introduction to health classes, information booths and prize giveaways. 

As the women arrived at the HAWC, they were greeted with free bags from Benefis Health Care Center filled with information pamphlets and health magazines. And the lucky 25 women who arrived first also received a pink duffel bag adorned with a breast cancer ribbon graphic and filled with a pink T-shirt, baseball cap, pink ribbon pin, breast cancer awareness bracelet and a pink ribbon-shaped carabineer. 

After getting acquainted with the HAWC, the women settled into a classroom for a brief speech from Jayme Blanton, a breast cancer survivor. 

Ms. Blanton was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at the very young age of 13. She said she learned very much from the experience and is proud to be a five-year survivor. 

"Dealing with such an illness at such a young age made me stronger and more prepared to face the challenges that inevitably arise in life," Ms. Blanton said. "I had the opportunity to turn this experience into one of the greatest journeys of my life, instead of letting it keep me down." 

Following the speech, Ms. Blanton shared more about her experiences with women throughout the evening as they browsed information booths, ate the pink cookies provided and took part in some of the specialized classes the HAWC offered, such as treadmill, yoga and massage. 

"By coming to the HAWC for this fun, low-key night, many of the women were introduced to and learned how to use the treadmills and weight machines they may have never used before," said Kelley Suggs, health education program manager at the HAWC. "This introduction to the facility reduces the intimidation surrounding all the ways people can lower the risk of cancer." 

These risks include being overweight, having unhealthy diets and a lack of physical activity, according to the information provided at the event. 

Toward the end of the night, the women had the chance to win prizes including free massages and a pink, breast cancer awareness blanket hand-crocheted by Dolly Wojciechowski, a produce worker at the commissary. A personal training package, yoga package and an in-home visit with a dietician were also given away. 

The event was funded, staffed and planned by the HAWC. The gynecology clinic, Sexual Assault Response Coordinators and the Spirit of Women also contributed. 

This event is held each October in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  

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