News: Sledgehammer soldiers Workout for Awareness
CAMP BUEHRING, KUWAIT - October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and soldiers of the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, alongside other service members and civilians stationed at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, participated in several events in honor of NBCAM, Saturday.
The fight against breast cancer has become personal for many. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately one in eight women will have a form of breast cancer during their lifetime, and it is the second leading cause of cancer death in women.
Breast cancer death rates have steadily declined due in part to early detection efforts and improved treatment techniques. Today there are more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States, but the fight is far from over.
Staff Sgt. Melinda Sessoms, a power generation equipment repairer, assigned to 203rd Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd ABCT, 3rd ID, is one of those survivors.
"I was diagnosed at the early age of 35, and was still a young NCO," said Sessoms. "I think the only thing that saved me was early detection and the Army medical community."
Sessoms added, "Early detection basically assists you in determining what type of treatment you will go through. We as mothers need to encourage our daughters to continue to take care of themselves. Breast cancer doesn't just affect the older people; it hits people in their 20's and 30's too."
Sessoms explained that during her battle with breast cancer, emotional and morale support was just as important as her medical treatment.
"My chain of command was a great part of my treatment, they were there for me and that made me feel like I am still part of the team, not just a sick soldier."
More than 200 service members and civilians at Camp Buehring started the day with a 1.8 mile walk in honor of NBCAM.
"I enjoyed the walk," said Maj. Willette Alston-Williams, the brigade's senior human resources officer. "It was great to walk hand in hand with my Army family for a cause that needs to always be out in the forefront, not just in October."
More than 50 soldiers also took part in a two hour Zumba-thon Saturday evening. Soldiers danced into the night wearing the familiar pink.
"Both events went extremely well. It was a great time to bring a lot of people together who have been touched in one way or another by breast cancer," said Sessoms. "People learned about my battle and came to me to talk about their mother, aunt or grandmother who is or has battled breast cancer."
For some participants, the day was about more than just breast cancer awareness.
"To me, it's not just breast cancer awareness, it's cancer awareness," said Capt. Euginna Addison, a military intelligence officer and the Zumba instructor for the event. "I lost a sister to cancer in 2009, and I think it is very important for people to get checked [for cancer] and to raise money for a cure."
Addison also discussed the benefits of uniting Camp Buehring soldiers and civilians for a good cause.
"It was a great event, we are basically in a fishbowl here, and anytime we can bring people together for a cause is awesome," said Addison.
"I had a lot of fun," said Spc. Keshia Henry, a signal support systems specialist assigned for the Sledgehammer Brigade. "I got a great workout for a great cause, and the opportunity to wear pink made it even better."
NBCAM was founded in 1985 and its main effort is to educate people on the symptoms and treatment of breast cancer. Supporters hope that with more knowledge and early detection there will be higher long-term survival rates, and that the money raised will bring a permanent cure for the disease.
Volunteers from 3rd ABCT and various units raised a total $886 for breast cancer awareness and will donate the funds to the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation which was established in 1982.