September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month and September 26 is National Women’s Health and Fitness Day. To highlight these events I’d like to start a conversation about gynecological cancers, what I call the big five, which include cervical, uterine or endometrial, ovarian, vulvar, and vaginal cancers.
Cancer occurs when cells of the body grow at an increased rate and become malignant. Cervical cancer occurs in the lower part of the uterus and is often caused by human papillomavirus, a virus that is common in men and women. I encourage women to stay up to date on a preventative exam, including a pap smear, which can detect changes in the cervix early when HPV is easily treatable. There is also a vaccine available for young adults that helps prevent cervical cancer caused by HPV.
Uterine or endometrial cancer occurs in the uterus, either in the uterine muscle itself or in the inner lining of the uterus called the endometrium. Ovarian cancer occurs in the ovaries, the female organ responsible for housing a woman’s eggs, and can spread to other areas of the body in later stages of the disease. Your regular pap smear and well-woman exam does not screen for ovarian cancer or uterine/endometrial cancers. Vulvar cancer occurs in the vulva, the external tissues surrounding the vagina. Vaginal cancers occur anywhere inside the vagina. These cancers can be detected during a pelvic exam, which is usually performed as part of a well-woman appointment and don’t necessarily need to be combined with a pap smear. The pap smear is used to detect cervical cancer, but can also sometimes detect vaginal cancer cells.
This September, the health education department at the Benteh Nuutah Valley Native Primary Care Center is starting a gynecological cancer educational campaign; the goal is to raise awareness on female cancers and educate women on resources available for women who are currently going through cancer treatment and for those who have been
It is my personal goal, to open the lines of communication and increase awareness about the different forms of cancer that affect women. We don’t often hear or talk about gynecological cancers because it can be uncomfortable to discuss, especially in an educational or public health setting. I want to urge women to be their own health advocates and to feel empowered to ask their providers questions about gynecological cancers and preventative screenings. As customer-owners at Southcentral Foundation, you are both a customer of our health care services and an owner of your health care. You have shared responsibility with your provider to make informed decisions about your medical care, which puts you in the driver’s seat. I encourage you to be informed about the big five and thrive in good health.
By Ashley Schroeder
Are you a veteran or first responder and looking for resources to help overcome feeling overwhelmed or stressed? No cost help is a phone call away.
Southcentral Foundation is holding a week long Soldier’s Heart Training. This five-day educational training is designed for veterans and first responders who have experienced post-traumatic stress. It aims to reduce the symptoms of post-traumatic stress, provide community to talk about shared experiences, and re-categorize post-traumatic stress as a normal response to extreme events. This training is named Soldier’s Heart in honor of a common title used by physicians during the Civil War.
The next Southcentral Foundation Soldier’s Heart Training is scheduled for July 26 to Aug. 1. The application deadline for this no cost training is June 29.
Held at SCF’s Lark Street location, housing and meals will be provided. Aftercare is available in Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough through learning circles. This innovative and comprehensive training program teaches participants tools to help reduce the symptoms of post-traumatic stress among veterans, first responders, and their families. It is not a medical or diagnostic program. Some of the topics include survival guilt and shame, trauma triggers, finding meaning and forgiveness.
If you are interested in a future training, contact the SCF Soldier’s Heart Training at (907) 729-6671, email us at soldiersheart@Southcentralfoundation.com or visit southcentralfoundation.com/services/soldiers-heart/
In the past, the conversation about sexual assault and harassment has been timid, if not silent. But the world has shifted to create a more welcoming environment to express personal feelings and provide more emphasis on the rights of men and women to control their own bodies. This cultural development has caused the massive scope of individuals who have experienced any unwanted sexual advance, contact, or assault to be revealed.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), sexual assault is any sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the receiver. This includes but is not limited to sexual touching or fondling, rape, and attempted rape. However, RAINN reminds readers that the term force does not singularly describe physical pressure, but can also be emotional and psychological manipulation.
The #MeToo movement has been a prominent vehicle for people of all walks of life to share their stories by posting on social media and include the hashtag. As the trend began to go viral, the bittersweet realization that the sexual abuse and harassment issue was far bigger than anyone had imagined came to life. But the trend began to spark the desire to find a solution. While the fight to change the social narrative is far from over, creating awareness and facilitating the conversation is a huge step in the right direction.
Though the world has come leaps and bounds from where it was, there are still those suffering in silence who are not comfortable putting their private struggles on such a public, accessible platform. As a health and wellness provider to Alaska Native and American Indian people in a state that has three times more sexual crime than the national average, Southcentral Foundation has a responsibility to provide resources to Alaskans who have experienced sexual assault, whatever their case may be.
SCF has a program based solely on helping individuals emotionally heal from traumatic events. The Family Wellness Warriors Initiative works to end violence, abuse and neglect in this generation by creating a safe environment for people to relay what they have experienced and learn how to deal with anger, loss, and grief while building relationships with others. FWWI also works with those who have harmed to teach them healthy expressions of anger and the importance of empathy. To do this, they practice good coping skills and work to recognize healthy responses to negative emotions. This goes hand-in-hand with ending sexual assault and harassment as it teaches healthy interpersonal habits.
On April 16 – 20, FWWI will be hosting Beauty for Ashes, a conference designed to educate attendees on the personal battles and lasting effects of domestic abuse on someone’s day to day life. It is a week-long journey of spiritual healing for those who have experienced domestic abuse, and a source of intense insight for those who have not. They work in large and small groups to understand the root causes of domestic abuse and how to stop the cycle.
“I felt a sense of peace and I wanted to share it with others,” said a 2017 Beauty for Ashes attendee. “I learned how to share my feelings productively.”
The theme for the April 2018 Sexual Assault Awareness Month is Embrace Your Voice. This is an important statement as it recognizes that people on both sides of abuse have had their voices silenced. The journey to wellness for those who have experienced assault or abuse starts with understanding the impact of their stories. If they share their experiences, it will allow for others to relate and work through their emotional hardships.
Any kind of sexual assault or abuse is fueled by a misunderstanding of how to treat others. But there is a way to reverse the effects of trauma and it begins with support and love from those who understand. If the conversation remains ongoing and the standard for healthy relationships is clear, Alaska will be that much closer to reaching the end of abuse in not only this generation, but for generations to come.
To learn more about Family Wellness Warriors Initiative (FWWI) and their programs, call (907) 729-5440.
by Addison Anderson, SCF Public Relations
Southcentral Foundation Board Member Roy Huhndorf was honored by the Alaska Federation of Natives with the Dr. Walter Soboleff Warriors of Light award on Oct. 20 during the annual convention.
The Warriors of Light award is named for the late doctor who was a Tlingit scholar, respected Elder, and religious leader. The AFN award recognizes an Alaska Native who uplifts and unifies our people.
Huhndorf was born in the village of Nulato and is of Yup’ik descent. He served in the U.S. Army and
moved to Anchorage after his service, where he became involved in the land claims settlement.
In her nomination of Huhndorf, CIRI President and CEO Sophie Minich said, “Roy Huhndorf is that
rare individual who combines visionary thinking with sharp intellect and a big heart to improve the
lives of Alaska Native people. The leadership he provided and the decisions he guided have helped
to change thousands of lives and generation will benefi t from his contributions.”
Huhndorf was elected to serve on the initial board of incorporators for CIRI in 1972. He now serves
as chairman emeritus for the CIRI Board of Directors, serving a total of 40 years on the board and 20
years as the president/CEO. In addition to serving on the board for Southcentral Foundation, he has
served as co-chair for the Alaska Federation of Natives, and as director for the University of Alaska
Board of Regents, United Way, and other organizations.
Southcentral Foundation is hosting the 2017 basketball camp on August 14-17. This full day camp will pair customer-owners, age 14-18 years old, with SCF leadership and basketball professionals. Special guests include Jesse LeBeau, Troy Justice, Matt Conboy, and Matt Carle, who will lead the participants in honing their basketball skills, while guests such as Miss Alaska Alyssa London will share her story about finding her motivation. SCF’s own Chris Bryant and the SCF Health Education will be there to make sure the day is full of fun physical activities. Lunch will be provided each day, as the camp is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and campers who may need an additional snacks are encouraged to bring them. Parents and family of the campers are welcome to join the closing speaker each day at 4 p.m. This exciting camp is free, but space is limited. To join, the application and waiver form must be completed and submitted prior to the first day of camp. For more information, email SCFbasketballcamp@southcentralfoundation.com.
The Southcentral Foundation Dental Assistant Training Program is changing!