Women's health conference set for Saturday

ALBANY, Ga. -- Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital will host its annual women's health conference from 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturday at Phoebe HealthWorks at 311 Third Ave.

The theme of this year's event is "Cancer Awareness: A Matter of Life and Breath." Breast cancer, as well as lung cancer, cervical cancer and colorectal cancer, will be discussed during workshops and physician presentations, coordinators of the event say.

Dr. Shawnta Speer, Dr. Phillip Roberts and Dr. Wayne Holley will be speaking during the event, along with a late-stage lung cancer patient, coordinators say.

The timing of the conference generally coincides with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

"This gives us an opportunity to not just wear pink, but to celebrate the courage of the women and families who have been fighting (breast cancer)," said Darrell Sabbs, community benefits coordinator at Phoebe. "(These events are about) education and awareness in early detection.

"The numbers are starting to decline when it comes to breast cancer. It has to do with heightened awareness. That is something to come together and talk and cheer about."

This year, the focus will be on lung cancer, a leading killer of both men and women.

"The city does a lot with its non-smoking ordinance, but we need to do more because of the impacts of smoking and secondhand smoke," Sabbs said. "(At the conference), we will be discussing new treatments, risks, prevention strategies and what the hospital is seeing and dealing with (in regards to lung cancer)."

The American Cancer Society, Carlton Breast Health Center, Phoebe Cancer Center and 100 Black Men of Albany are among the organizations that have joined to pull the conference together.

The benefit of holding health conferences for women can potentially go beyond the women themselves, Sabbs said.

"Women are the gatekeepers of health. When you reach a woman, you reach an entire family," he said. "Conferences with dialogue (regarding screening and prevention) with women tend to go farther.

"When women do it (the health conference), it is almost like church. It is spiritual. They inspire each other together."

Free health screenings will be provided, including height, weight, blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol checks. A continental breakfast and lunch will be served.

From 300-400 women generally attend the conference each year, Sabbs said.

Those participating in the screenings, which will take place through 10 a.m., are asked not to eat after midnight the evening before. The screenings will be followed by the program's speakers.

Information booths and souvenir T-shirts will also be available, officials say.