Return to Headlines

Women's Health Workshop Brings Awareness to Community

Empowering a community with knowledge.

That was the focus of the Hazelwood School District's Women's Health Workshop on Jan. 10.

The district partnered with Dr. Lannis Hall to provide a free, hour-long presentation on women's health and breast cancer awareness for the community.

Dr. Hall is the Director of Radiation Oncology at Siteman Cancer Center in St. Peters and Assistant Professor of Clinical Radiation Oncology at the Washington University School of Medicine; she spoke about the alarming trends and increased rates at which breast cancer affects African American women in the St. Louis region, and how all women can access treatment and spread awareness.

An audience of about 40 people listened in and later asked questions and shared some of their own experiences with Dr. Hall.

Among the attendees was Gretchen Smith, a two-time cancer survivor and board member for Valeda's Hope, a St. Louis-based group dedicated to educating women on health issues.

For Smith, it's a matter of taking her story and empowering women to help one another.

"When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, I was so afraid and I felt like I was frozen in time," she said. "But now my ears are different and I'm hearing it differently, and I just realize the importance of it even more, and how important it is for us to have this conversation."

Dr. Hall spoke about a number of facts and figures related to breast cancer, many of which might be eye-opening to those hearing them for the first time.

For example, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis in women, with 230,000 diagnosed annually in the U.S.

Dr. Hall also noted that African American women are more likely to develop the disease before the age of 45, and African American and Hispanic women are 30 to 60 percent more likely to have a later stage of the disease at the time of diagnosis.

Attendees also learned about risk factors related to breast cancer, and the various facilities and providers available to women in the area.

The Jan. 10 workshop was one of four workshops given by Dr. Hall in the district; she gave presentations to all girls at each Hazelwood high school in October and November.

Most importantly, Dr. Hall emphasized that she hopes these workshops can serve as the start of a movement, one that inspires women of all ages to take action for the sake of their own health and for that of others.

After attending the workshop, Gretchen Smith wholeheartedly agrees.

"For us to sit here and get this information, to hold onto it and not pass it on, that's what we can't do," she said. "I share this information all the time and pass it on."

Superintendent Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart (left) recognizes Dr. Lannis Hall for her partnership with Hazelwood School District

Dr. Hall speaks to the audience

Dr. Hall speaks with attendees following the presentation