"It's something we need, it's going to be fun, and the food is going to be delicious," explains Eunice Akagi. She's encouraging her friends to attend this year's Women's Health Forum scheduled for this Saturday, Nov. 15, at Centennial Hall. Jane MacKinnon looks forward to the health care experts brought in from out of town. "They have some terrific speakers that have up to the minute information," she said. This will be Edna Williams' fourth year of attending the Women's Health Forum. She says, "They bring us knowledge we cannot get locally. The program is very worthwhile and it is completely free."
Akagi, MacKinnon and Williams' are three of the many senior citizen women who have discovered this popular annual event. This will be the sixth year that the Southeast Alaska Cancer and Wellness Foundation has sponsored the Juneau Women's Health Forum. Each year there has been a focus on women's cancers and prevention of those cancers, and on other common health concerns for women, such as heart health and bone health. Over the past five years, many women have asked if the cancer rates in Juneau or Southeast are higher than in the rest of the state and for the country as a whole.
In response to their questions, SEACWF invited Jeanne Roche, BSN, MPH, CTR from the State Health Department's Section of Epidemiology to be one of this year's speakers. Jeanne has been the Director of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program for Alaska's Division of Public Health since 1991. At the Women's Health Forum, Roche will talk about "Cancer in Alaska Women," discussing where in Alaska the number of cancer cases are highest, comparing Southeast to other regions of the state and to the rest of the country, and highlighting differences among ethnic groups. She will also talk about where the greatest risks for cancer lie and what people can do to reduce their risks.
By Marianne Mills
But knowing that one needs to make a lifestyle change and actually doing it are two different things. That is why SEARHC is bringing up Steven Malcolm Berg-Smith, MS as the second keynote speaker. In his 18 years as a health educator, behavior change counselor, and researcher at the University of California and Kaiser Permanente, Steve has conducted workshops throughout the U.S. and internationally on strategies for motivating positive lifestyle changes. During his presentation on "Awakening Inner Motivation for Healthy Change," he will conduct an interactive exercise to help each person make a lifestyle behavior change that will improve their health. Each person will identify a personal health issue to focus on and he will guide Forum participants through the process of setting a goal and making a shift around it. Participants will go away with skills for staying motivated.
In addition to the speakers, free health services will be available at the Women's Health Forum, including blood pressure checks, glucose monitoring, and body mass index measurement. Doctors' offices and other health care providers will have display tables where Forum participants can pick up free information and other items (canvas bags, for example) and can ask health related questions. But for some, the highlight of the Forum is the free lunch - the event organizers will prepare enough food for the first 350 participants, so folks are advised to be there when the doors open at 11:30 a.m. Everyone is welcome to the Women's Health Forum - bring a daughter, friend, neighbor or spouse!
Marianne Mills oversees senior citizen nutrition and transportation programs in Juneau, Skagway, Sitka, and Yakutat as a staff member of Southeast Senior Services, a program of Catholic Community Service. CCS assists all persons regardless of their faith.