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Go Ask Mom

Brunch highlights Pretty in Pink Foundation, breast cancer in African-American women

Posted April 20, 2014

Pam Woodyard first learned about the good work done by the Raleigh-based Pretty in Pink Foundation through her work as an administrator with the Duke University Health System,

The group, an independent organization that works with all of the region's health systems, helps support women and men living with breast cancer by raising money to pay for everything from their care to taxi rides and child care.

Now Woodyard is helping to raise money for the foundation through her affiliation with the Raleigh-Wake chapter of Jack and Jill of America, an African-American family organization that provides cultural, civic, social and educational activities. The group is hosting a jazz brunch Sunday at The Garden on Millbrook in Raleigh to benefit Pretty in Pink.

It also will raise awareness about breast cancer among African-American women, who, according to the American Cancer Society, are most likely to die from the disease. Some of the proceeds from the brunch will benefit two Pretty in Pink "champions" in Wake County. Alisha, a 47-year-old mom, was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2012. Alexis, a 39-year-old mom of two, was diagnosed in February 2013.

I chatted with Woodyard, a mom of two kids ages 12 and 8 in north Raleigh, about Jack and Jill, Pretty in Pink and breast cancer in African-American women. Here's our chat and a quick video interview with her.

Go Ask Mom: You're a Jack and Jill mom. Tell us about how you and your family got involved and what the group does.

Pam Woodyard: A friend invited me to join the Raleigh Wake Chapter of Jack and Jill of America because she knew I had children and I wanted to enrich their school learning lessons with life learning experiences. Jack and Jill is a national organization that strives to enhance children's development by giving them guidance and opportunities to create, experiment, lead, and serve. Each chapter plans monthly activities for the children and we establish an annual, local fund raising campaign. Through service projects and fund raising, Jack and Jill of America creates a opportunity for children to learn the importance of contributing to the community.

GAM: The Raleigh-Wake chapter will host a jazz brunch to benefit the Pretty in Pink Foundation this month. Why did you want to highlight this group and the work it does?

PW: We elected to support Pretty In Pink for several reasons. Pretty in Pink is fairly unique in the services it provides. There is a lot of very important work being done to support cancer research, but there are relatively few resources to help provide direct care and support services for people who are currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Another reason we chose to support Pretty in Pink is because although anyone can get breast cancer, African-American women are more likely to get particularly aggressive forms of breast cancer, are more likely be diagnosed when the cancer is more advanced, and are more likely to die from breast cancer than women of other ethnicities. There are many factors that contribute this situation, but the moms in Jack and Jill Raleigh Wake Chapter thought by supporting Pretty In Pink we can make a difference for at least a couple of women. If we are able to relieve some of the financial stress and concerns that a woman - a mother - has when she is undergoing treatment we not only help that woman, but we also help her children and the whole family.

GAM: What do African-American women in particular need to know about breast cancer?

PW: Preventative care is key. We need to perform proper breast self exam, get our mammogram, exercise, maintain a healthy weight, and know our family history of breast cancer. We need to make this part of our lifestyle from an early age and teach our daughters to do the same. This is true for all women, but especially African-American women have a younger average age of diagnosis than Caucasian women, so it is extra important that we begin living a healthy lifestyle of prevention as early as possible.

GAM: The brunch will help two local moms who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. What can you tell us about them?

PW: Pretty In Pink refers to all the people who are currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer as "champions." The two champions that Jack and Jill Raleigh Wake Chapter are supporting are African-American women, who live in Wake County, and they are moms. We are assisting with the cost of physician office visit payments and radiology treatments for these champions. We chose them because they closely mirror the membership of our chapter, but there are so many other champions who need assistance from throughout the state - men and women (men get breast cancer, too), that I would encourage anyone who has an interest in supporting a champion to contact Pretty in Pink Foundation

GAM: How can people get involved in the brunch?

PW: In order to maximize the proceeds that will be donated to Pretty In Pink, we encourage everyone to consider being a sponsor for this event. Sponsorships start at $250; however we are also accepting donations of various amounts. If you love jazz and good food, there are a limited number of tickets for the brunch that are still available for $65 each. You are welcome to join us at 2 p.m., April 27, at The Garden on Millbrook. To sponsor, donate, or purchase tickets contact Colethia Evans at colethianc@gmail.com.  Reach out to her today!

Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.

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