October: A month dedicated to bringing awareness to important issues

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Tyler Johnson
[email protected]

ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING (October 8, 2020) – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

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At the Rock Springs city council meeting on Tuesday, a presentation was given from representatives at both the Sweetwater Regional Cancer Center and YWCA Sweetwater County to talk about what millions of people go through on a daily basis dealing with breast cancer and domestic violence.

Both groups have ribbons tied to the bridge overlooking downtown Rock Springs to remember the victims of breast cancer and domestic violence.

Breast Cancer Awareness:

Eva Wasseen, a registered nurse and radiation oncologist, said that one in for people will some kind of cancer in their lifetime, adding that one in eight women will get breast cancer because it is the most common form of cancer in women. Breast cancer is also the major cause of death from cancer for women between the ages of 30 to 60 years of age.

She said that breast cancer awareness has led to a greater number of women being screened for breast cancer.

Drinking excessive amount of alcohol, being overweight and a lack of physical activity can cause breast cancer, Wasseen noted.

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She said that women who have two to three drinks a day have nearly a 20% higher risk than someone who doesn’t drink alcohol. Overweight women can have a higher blood insulin level, which Wasseen said has been linked to different cancers, including breast cancer. She said regular physical activity reduces breast cancer risk, especially after menopause.

Wasseen encourages local businesses to sign up for Paint the Town Pink, which is basically decorating the office pink to spread awareness. Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County will announce the winner on Friday, Oct. 30. The deadline to register is Monday, Oct. 17.

Send one photo of the business’ storefront to [email protected] for a chance to win. The voting this year will take place online from Oct. 26 to Oct. 28 on the hospital Facebook page. For more information, call 307-212-7760.

Domestic Violence Awareness:

YWCA executive director Melinda Baas was joined with Nicole Halstead, a Rock Springs resident whose daughter died in December 2019 after being a victim of domestic violence.

“We’re honored to share this with Breast Cancer Awareness because there are so many similarities. This is an issue that hits women so much harder. One in four women are going to go through domestic violence of some sort,” Baas said.

According to Baas, 20 people every 20 seconds fall victim to domestic violence.

She said that in one day in 2019, the National Network to End Domestic Violence counted 77,000 victims and answered 19,000 crisis calls.

“In Sweetwater County alone, 357 clients were served by the YWCA and our programs,” Baas said. “We had 70 people in the shelter and nearly 50 more children just last year. We answered 1,299 crisis calls from just our crisis line.”

Halstead spoke about her daughter Whitney Sewell and her experience with domestic violence.

“Her case was not a normal case. She did not have black eyes. She didn’t come to work with bruises. Her husband was a control freak,” Halstead said. “My daughter was a very prideful woman. She was very outgoing. She was the life of the party and had a smile on her face all the time.

“She was always the one who wanted to help out everyone else, but was too afraid to ask for help for herself.”

Halstead, along with friends and family of Whitney, have spent the last two to three months planning an event to honor Whitney. “We want to do something to help this community understand that it’s not always physical and that there’s so much more to this. There’s so many other factors that play into this, as far as what abuse is,” Halstead said.

On Saturday, Oct. 17, at the Park Hotel in downtown Rock Springs, a memorial 5K run or walk is scheduled to honor Whitney. The 5K will begin at 12 p.m. All of the proceeds from the event will go to the Wyoming Crisis Center.

For more information, visit the #StandForWhitt Facebook page.

“October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, but for us it’s 365 days a year,” Halstead said.

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