Seats are available now for the Steps to Kick Cancer awareness event at Mark Twain Medical Center (MTMC) in San Andreas.

The Oct. 24 event will include a complimentary sit-down meal, catered by Carmen’s Cafe, and feature guest speaker Tina Macuha, a 10-year breast cancer survivor and “Good Day Sacramento” television news anchor.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to discuss local resources to “diagnose, treat and triumph over breast cancer” with staff members at the hospital.

The event is financially supported by Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI), the Mark Twain Health Care District (MTHCD) and the Calaveras Cancer Support Group Fund of the Calaveras Community Foundation, with guest hospitality assistance from members of Soroptimist International of Calaveras County, the Calaveras Cancer Support Group and MTMC hospital volunteers.

"We are grateful to Mark Twain Medical Center for reaching out to us about the Steps to Kick Cancer event. Breast cancer is a serious health threat to both men and women and we are happy to support raising community awareness with this unique event," Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) Community Relations Manager Mark Luster said in a news release. "I just learned that the mammography team at MTMC provides this procedure – a vital step towards early detection – to at least one man a week. Most people are not aware that breast cancer in men can be deadly if not detected early."

Calaveras Cancer Support Group leader, MTHCD board member and breast cancer survivor Debbie Sellick is a driving force behind the event, and she hopes it will raise awareness in both men and women about the importance of early detection.

Coincidentally, Sellick was already involved in the cancer support group when she was diagnosed following her first mammogram 15 years ago at the age of 41.

A busy, working mother who was going through a divorce, Sellick was shocked and devastated to learn of her illness. She initially ran away from the reality of it before being brought around by a worried doctor.

“A lot of people are afraid of a mammogram and afraid of the word “cancer,” Sellick told the Enterprise. “So many young girls are getting cancer and dying because they don’t want to get a mammogram … Nobody knows when your time’s up and what’s going to happen to you, but with cancer, you can have a chance.”

Sellick continued, “Don’t be afraid. Don’t be in fear. Ask questions and check out your community resources to see how they can help you.”

Sellick’s road to recovery involved six months of chemotherapy, followed by eight weeks of radiation and a lumpectomy to remove the nearly Stage 3 tumor in her breast. The experience affected her profoundly and has led her to a newfound purpose in educating her community.

“The importance of raising awareness about breast cancer just can’t be emphasized enough, especially among young adults,” Sellick said in a news release. “They need to get on it, get those mammograms – even before the age of 40 if there is a family history of breast cancer.”

Sellick added that men should also be proactive in their breast cancer screenings.

“Most people do not realize that both men and women are at risk for breast cancer and cases in men are just as deadly unless diagnosed early,” Sellick said. “I’m so excited that MTMC is recognizing Breast Cancer Awareness Month in this special way. Steps to Kick Cancer is a gift to our community.”

The luncheon will take place Oct. 24 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in a tented pavilion outside of the hospital. Seating is limited and reservations are required for the free sit-down lunch.

Contact Nicki Stevens at (209) 754-5919 to make a reservation.

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Dakota graduated from Bret Harte in 2013 and went to Davidson College, NC where she earned a bachelor's degree in Arab studies. After spending time studying in the Middle East and Europe, she is happy to be home, writing about the community she loves.

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