PITTSFIELD — Sebasticook Valley Hospital will hold its 16th annual Breast Cancer Walk on Saturday, with the proceeds providing free
mammograms to uninsured or underinsured people in the Pittsfield area. The walk, which begins at 8:45 a.m., usually attracts hundreds of
people and raises more than $20,000. Last year, Sebasticook Valley Hospital used that money to provide 141 free mammograms worth a total of $26,000, according to hospital spokeswoman Susan DiRosario.
“We usually have a pretty good crowd,” said DiRosario. “We do this rain or shine, so people might want to bring their umbrellas this Saturday.”
Traditionally, local businesses and organizations put together groups of walkers who gather sponsors collectively, and this year is no exception. Bev Rollins, one of the leaders of a group from Cianbro, said the team has raised more than $1,000, including the proceeds from a chili lunch within the company on Wednesday.
“We’ve done this for at least 10 years,” said Rollins. “We have both men and women on the team, as well as family and friends.” Beth Bacon of the Sebasticook Valley Hospital Women’s Health Services is one of the walk’s coordinators. “We’re expecting a good-sized turnout,” said Bacon, who noted there is one breast cancer survivor who has gathered dozens of walkers. Registration for the walk begins at 8 a.m. at the SVH Family Care medical office at 470 Somerset Ave., which is across from Somerset Plaza. Anyone who pays a $10 registration fee will receive a T-shirt, and those who gather $50 or more in sponsors will earn a fleece vest. There will be a short speaking program before the 8:45 .m. walk, including remarks by SVH President and CEO Victoria Alexander-Lane, who joined the hospital earlier this year. The walk route, which goes down Somerset Avenue into Pittsfield’s downtown and back, should take less than an hour, said DiRosario.
Until 1990, breast cancer killed about 32 in every 100,000 Mainers. That rate has been dropping since then and now stands at about 20 deaths per 100,000 people — men and women — according to the American Cancer Institute. The decline is likely due to increased screening levels and ever-improving technology. Some of that technology, including digital imaging equipment, is available at Sebasticook Valley Hospital.
For information about receiving a free mammogram, contact the hospital at 487-4000 and ask for women’s health services. DiRosario said the walk is organized by the hospital in conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is every October. “We just hope people come out and support this worthy cause,” said DiRosario.