The power of pink

LIHUE – Sharon Lasker had several reasons to participate in the Wednesday Breast Cancer Awareness Walk. So did Colleen Ogino. So did Bev Brody. Raising awareness. They realize and support the need for early detection and self-examination. The walk drew a couple dozen participants – women wearing the signature cancer awareness pink color. 

It was a day of reflection for Ogino.

“I lost my hair,” Ogino said. “You really don’t think about as a woman how important your hair is to protect your scalp. Now I understand men who have bald heads.”

But 10 years cancer free since she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she understands much more. 

At age 53, the Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School retired art teacher went for her annual mammogram. A lump was found. Two surgeries later, doctors removed the mass and the offending lymph nodes. 

“It was a shock,” Ogino said about the diagnosis. 

Two aunts had undergone mastectomies, but she didn’t think that could happen to her. 

Since Ogino didn’t have any ohana on Kauai, two companions kept her on track – her dogs Hina and Scooter. 

“They both made sure I got up every day and did what I needed to do,” Ogino recalled. “No time to get depressed.”

Her next door neighbor, Gregory Enos, has been touched by cancer of another kind. 

“My Dad passed away. Cancer of the lungs,” said Enos, event volunteer. “He was a heavy smoker, that cured me.”

Bev Brody’s mother lost her life to cancer of the colon. Brody, of Get Fit Kauai, led the dedicated group of walkers in warm-up exercises prior to hitting the sidewalk with pink balloons waving in the breeze. They traveled from the Moikeha County Building to Wilcox Memorial Hospital and back again, with a mission to raise awareness. 

“I always go for yearly mammograms,” Brody said. 

But Lasker has been letting it slide.

“I go every other year, and I’m not proud of that,” Lasker said. 

The American Cancer Society advises yearly mammograms beginning at age 40. Women in their 20s and 30s should have a breast exam as part of their regular health checkups at least every three years. After the age of 40, yearly breast exams are suggested by the ACS. Monthly self-examination is also encouraged.

Lasker’s family and friends have been touched by breast cancer. 

“The main reason I’m here today is that I’ve had a number of friends who have fought the fight and won the battle and some lost it,” Lasker said. “I have a friend right now who had a lumpectomy and is waiting for the outcome right now. So emotions are really high for me right now.”

The Kauai Committee on the Status of Women, walk sponsors, is part of the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women. They meet on the third Wednesday of the month. The next scheduled meeting is 5 p.m. Oct. 15 at the Moikeha Building, meeting Room 2A and 2B.

Lisa Ann Capozzi, a features and education reporter can be reached at lcapozzi@thegardenisland.com

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