West Oak Lane seniors host breast cancer walk

Breast cancer survivors, victims, supporters and caregivers donned pink and black athletic gear Saturday morning as they walked through West Oak Lane to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Women from the West Oak Lane Senior Center and Cheltenham Mall’s Heart and Sole walking program participated in the “From Us to You” mini-walk to benefit the Women of Faith and Hope, Inc. (WOFAH) – a nonprofit organization that supports women battling the disease. The group marched from the West Oak Lane Senior Center, at 7210 Ogontz Avenue to the Cheltenham Mall, at 2385 West Cheltenham Avenue, where they walked the perimeter of the shopping center before entering for the rest of the day’s activities. All proceeds went to WOFAH. The organization uses the funds for support meetings and to send flowers and cards to sick members.

Novella Lyons, founder and president of WOFAH was diagnosed with the disease in November 1993.  She started the nonprofit organization to help other women deal with a diagnois and treatment plan that can be complex and overwhelming. 

“Women did not know all the details of the diagnosis, the vocabulary associated with it, navigating the system, basically scared that they were going to die, like I was,” said Lyons.

Today, her goal is to bring hope to women who are as afraid as she was 18 years ago. WOFAH focuses on educating women about the disease in an effort to reduce the mortality rate through early detection. The group also provides spiritual and medical support, often accompanying women on medical visits. The nonprofit has support groups in Germantown, West Philadelphia and North Philadelphia where they teach women breast-self examinations, ways to navigate the health care system and how to talk to their doctor. They also help uninsured and underinsured women access free mammograms. Breast cancer survivor, Judythe Poe, was reluctant to receive annual mammograms.  “That wasn’t going to happen to me,” she said. “But it can happen, and it did.” In 1992, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, had a lumpectomy and received radiation therapy for a year. In 1994, she began receiving mammograms twice a year.  Poe advises, “Just do it. It’s just a few minutes of your time. It’s for your benefit.” Saturday’s miniwalk culminated inside the shopping center, where the group enjoyed refreshments.  Though uncertain of the total distance traveled during the walk, Chataun Porch, general manager of Cheltenham Mall, measured the perimeter of the mall as a mile and a quarter alone. Contact Vanessa Martinez  – vmartinez@whyy.org

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