Making Strides Against Breast Cancer


The American Cancer Society recently launched its Community Health Advisor Program in six counties in Western North Carolina.  The program trains local women who educate and navigate women in their communities to lifesaving cancer screenings for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers.  The ultimate goal is to address the health disparities facing women in our rural Appalachian communities.


The CHA program is starting in Jackson, Macon, Madison, Mitchell, Swain and Yancey counties and on the Cherokee Reservation, where women are participating in cancer screening at a lower rate and dying at a higher rate.  We know that finding breast cancer early, when it is easiest to treat, can be the difference between life and death.  CHA volunteers in each of the counties will educate their community on the ways to prevent cancer and when, where and how to access lifesaving cancer screenings.  For one Madison County CHA, “being a CHA means that I can now be part of the support system and reach out to women and men to encourage their participation in receiving early screenings that will possibly save their lives, just as mine was.”   These volunteers are trained to help identify what barriers are preventing an individual from being screened and guide them around these barriers.  


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the American Cancer Society is reminding women 40 and older to have a yearly mammogram and clinical breast exam.  The CHA Program is ensuring women in underserved areas of Western North Carolina are knowledgeable about breast cancer and the community resources to access screening.  As the leader in the fight to end breast cancer, the Society is fighting for all women.  


You can join the fight against breast cancer, support programs like CHA and create more birthdays by participating in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Downtown Asheville on October 20, 2012. More walkers mean the next big breast cancer breakthrough.  More walkers mean free lodging and transportation for breast cancer patients.  More walkers mean more CHAs helping women access mammograms.


For information about the CHA program or for help accessing cancer screening, contact Kathlene Stith 828.675.0305 or

Sandi Tomlin-Sutker
Written by Sandi Tomlin-Sutker