Breast cancer survivor gives back

Oct 14,2013

Sharon Weiner has lived in Depoe Bay for just over a year and already has one outreach event and a community presentation under her belt to educate women about breast and cervical cancer screening. A breast cancer survivor herself, she believes in the value of reaching out to others.

Weiner was diagnosed in her thirties and had thought for years about volunteering to help others. “I thought, maybe I should be doing something,” she recalls. “But after treatment, you move on. And like a lot of women, I didn’t ever tell anyone about it because there’s this little fear that the cancer may come back.”

Almost 20 years later Weiner took the first step to become involved with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, serving on the registration committee for the Komen Race for the Cure in St. Louis, Mo., where she lived at the time. The event attracts around 60,000 participants.

“The work Komen is doing is such a good cause, I knew I needed to become involved,” said Weiner. “But it took a while for me to come to that decision.”

After her initial efforts with Komen, she moved to Charleston, S.C., and became the volunteer chair for the race. In that position she recruited a record-breaking 700 volunteers for the event. “I didn’t know a soul in town before the event,” said Weiner. “But it turned out to be quite successful.”

When Weiner moved to Depoe Bay, she continued her efforts, this time through the grant-funded SCREEN program. SCREEN aims to spread information about early detection of breast and cervical cancer through grassroots efforts — churches, schools, community presentations and local health fairs. It takes a lot of volunteers to cover so many avenues, but that means more personal one-on-one contact with the women who need it most.

The program is in its third year locally, and is a collaborative project supported by Samaritan Health Services through grants from Susan G. Komen of Oregon and SW Washington, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute and OHSU Center for Women’s Health.

“I really believe in [in the SCREEN program],” said Weiner. “I’ll go wherever they send me to talk to women about how important it is to be screened for breast and cervical cancer!”

Weiner recently represented SCREEN at a free event in Newport for women who needed breast or cervical exams. “We had an excellent turnout. Forty-seven women came. These women were there because they needed help… It was a fulfilling, eye-opening experience.”

Karen Caul is the SCREEN Program Coordinator for the mid-Willamette region and is always looking for more volunteers.

“Our program depends upon volunteers to deliver our message: early detection saves lives,” said Caul. “It is our goal to have local volunteers in every community, educating their neighbors and friends about breast and cervical screening recommendations.”

Weiner is pleased to be able to serve a cause that helps other women. “It’s a really well run program,” she said. “And needed in these smaller communities.”

For more information or to volunteer for SCREEN, contact Karen Caul at 541-768-5470 or visit samhealth.org/SCREEN.