0

Antioch A.M.E. dedicates service to breast cancer awareness

Dr. Rogsbert F. Phillips-Reed

Dr. Rogsbert F. Phillips-Reed

photo

Women from Antioch A.M.E. Church in Conyers celebrate during a Worship in Pink service at the church.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Antioch A.M.E. Church in Conyers will host a Worship in Pink Celebration for family and friends during its morning worship service Sunday.

This is the fifth year the church has held such a program, and each year the number grows for those who want to learn about breast health and receive a free screening.

When the church held its first Worship in Pink service, about 150 people took part. This year, organizers anticipate close to 250 or 300.

"This is open to everyone -- women and men," Antioch's Worship in Pink coordinator Bresha Franklin said. "This can affect men, too. We'll have a personal testimony from a man (who has had breast cancer). Men think it's a woman's disease."

Franklin, who has been a member of Antioch A.M.E. for six years, said she has had many friends, including many young women, who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

"We've had two in our church who were diagnosed since we started this program," she said.

Franklin said her church decided to sponsor such an event to help people understand more about the need for early screening.

"A lot of times most minority communities do not talk about breast cancer," she said. "Worship in Pink started as an awareness of the religious base. If people hear it from the pulpit, they would be more likely to go get checked out."

In conjunction with the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the church began sponsoring the Worship in Pink celebrations each year to inform members of the congregation and extended community about breast cancer.

The first year it held such an event, breast cancer survivor and DeKalb County physician Dr. Rogsbert F. Phillips-Reed was invited to speak to the congregation and do basic breast exams. She is the founder of Sisters by Choice, a breast cancer support group.

In subsequent years, other speakers have included doctors from Rockdale and DeKalb counties. For the fifth-year celebration, Phillips-Reed will again be the guest speaker and will offer breast exams.

Franklin said on Sunday, Phillips-Reed will offer a free basic breast exam in a room set up at the church. She will then have her office call to set up mammograms for a later date.

Funding for the program at the church once came from the Susan G. Komen Foundation, but Franklin said money was cut due to the economy. Phillips-Reed has continued to offer her service to the church for free. Franklin said the doctor has a walk she sponsors each year to raise money to purchase a mobile mammogram unit to take out into the community.

"She focuses on Rockdale and Newton," Franklin said. "She's done probably over 200 to 300 exams over the last five years for us. Several people have been diagnosed. She helps them find resources and make it through."

Franklin, who is a pharmacist, said this program began after the Susan G. Komen Foundation identified the Covington-Conyers area as an area of concern because women were not being diagnosed until the later stages of breast cancer because they were not getting screened.

Franklin also said the church was part of a pilot project for Susan G. Komen as it participated in breast cancer surveys. Participants took the survey prior to the breast cancer awareness program. After the program, they again took the survey and results showed a 35 percent increase in their knowledge about the topic.

Franklin said the church hopes to draw attention to early screening and detection for women and men.

She said youth groups will present music and dance for the Sunday program. They will also learn breast cancer is a disease that affects all ages. Franklin said a previous service included a testimony from a 13-year-old girl who was a breast cancer survivor.

In addition to the church, Phillips-Reed and the Susan G. Komen Foundation, other organizations helping with Worship in Pink include Zeta Phi Beta sorority, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority's Chi Tau Omega chapter.

For those who are unable to attend the upcoming Sunday service, but would like to schedule a free breast exam and mammogram, call Dorothy Moore at 770-388-9661 or email shorty.100@att.net.

Also this Sunday, guest Bishop Teresa Snorton from the Alabama-Florida region will speak. The service will include a time to honor breast cancer survivors. There will be gift bags provided by the Susan G. Komen Foundation and materials will be available for more information.

The Worship in Pink service begins at 10 a.m. Antioch A.M.E. is located at 1790 Ebenezer Road in Conyers.

Beth Sexton is a freelance writer based in Loganville. If you have a story idea, email Karen Rohr, features editor, at karen.rohr@rockdalecitizen.com.