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Walking the Walk - Fifth annual breast cancer benefit Saturday

Radiology Regional Mammo Bus to be on site at The Mermaid offering mammograms and sign-ups

October 16, 2014
Melissa Schneider - Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

For the fifth year, the folks of The Mermaid have done what they could to raise awareness of breast cancer and early detection, as well as helping a local organization. This year, they're stepping it up a notch, with the Radiology Regional Mammo Bus on-site during their annual Walk the Walk for Breast Cancer benefit and poker walk, strutting the boulevard Saturday, Oct. 18, with registration beginning at 10 a.m. Funds raised from the benefit will be used to get local island women who are either uninsured, unemployed or "working poor" the mammograms they need for early detection.

"I wanted to make sure women here on the beach are going to get mammograms. That's why we're having the Mammo Coach here on Fort Myers Beach Saturday," said Lena Neroni, event planner and bookkeeper for the lounge, as well as benefit organizer, along with owner Kathy Van Selow. "The Family Health Center and Senior Friendship Center will be coming to sign people up for those who either don't have insurance, not working or working poor, who simply can't afford a mammogram. They'll be here to sign people up for a mammogram that day, or to get one at a later time."

The annual event will kick off at the Mermaid Lounge, 1204 Estero Blvd., at 10 a.m., with a wealth of raffles, prizes, 50/50s and delicious buffet for participants. From there, walkers will head out the door together, hitting local hot spots including the Beach Pub, the Beached Whale, the Lighthouse Tiki Bar and the Yucatan Beach Stand, each of the stops offering something fun and special for participants, along with 50/50s, as well as a playing card, before returning to the Mermaid with their full poker hand.

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The Mermaid Lounge’s fifth annual Walk the Walk for Breast Cancer strolls down the boulevard Saturday, Oct. 18, beginning at 10 a.m. The benefit is raising funds to get local, uninsured Fort Myers Beach women the early detection mammogram screenings they need to stay healthy and cancer free. Above, one of the first benefit walks. Everyone, wear your pink! Photo by MELISSA SCHNEIDER.

Prizes will be awarded for best hand, worst hand and others, and all are expected to have a blast while raising funds for a great local cause.

The Radiology Regional's Mammo Coach will be parked in the Mermaid parking lot that day from 2 to 6 p.m., and all are urged to make appointments ahead of time. Don't worry if you can't make it on the bus that day. The point of the benefit is to raise funds to cover the cost of the mammograms for island women either during or after it takes place.

"The State of Florida says women ages 35 and 39 are entitled to establishing a baseline mammogram. From there, if all is well, they can get one every year, to have something to compare to. For those who are insured, it is 100 percent covered with no co-pay and no deductible, and no prescription needed with the results read to you, so you don't have to pay your doctor an office visit for the prescription, then pay again for him/her to read the results. You have the right to get a mammogram without an order from the doctor," said Patti Granitz, Mobile Mammo coordinator with Radiology Regional Centers. "Give it as a present for yourself around your birthday (a great way to remember the date), before your doctor's annual check-up, so he can then go over the results with you, too. The best birthday present you can give yourself is get a mammogram. Early detection is what can save your life."

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The Mammo Bus has been on the road since 2010 and tests about 2,500 to 3,000 women a year. You'll often see it parked at large shopping centers, school parking lots (for the teachers and faculty to get tested on their breaks), and other spots around town, offering mammograms and tours right there on-site.

Unlike the white-walled, brightly lit hospital rooms and interiors of many doctors' offices, the Mammo Bus is a warm, inviting and stylish testing facility, where women feel comfortable and relaxed while getting screened.

"It is not like the 'sterile environment' you'd see at a doctor's office," Patti said. "It's very stylized, cozy, wood flooring, beautiful decor and pictures, very cozy dressing room. We know early detection saves lives, driving for detection on the road seven days a week, early in the morning to late at night."

Lena had a chance to see the interior of the Mammo Bus during a vist a couple weeks ago.

"It was easy, comfortable, quick, I was in and out within 15 minutes, including the paperwork. It wasn't scary at all," she explained. "It's very colorful and pretty inside. The minute I walked in, there were big smiles, happy faces, making you comfortable right away. The woman who did it explained every step of the way. It was a very good experience."

Both Lena and Patti said women without health insurance are often discouraged from getting the screening.

"Often, women just think because they don't have health insurance, not to bother getting a mammogram. They think if they detect something in the results, how would they even cover the cost. There are always additional resources get your mammogram. We will help you with the process. We will help you find the resources," Patti said. "If you get an early detection and something is spotted, it can be a quick procedure. But if you let it go and don't get tested, it can get much worse, leading to radiation treatments, serious surgeries and even death.

There are resources out there to help you with screenings and help you with treatment. We will help you get and find the resources you need."

Two of the resources Patti speaks of will be on-site during the benefit at The Mermaid Saturday: The Family Health Center and the Senior Friendship Center, both groups helping uninsured women with their screenings, prevention and treatment.

So, whether you'd like to sign up that day for a future screening, get a screening right then and there, or just take a tour or speak with a consultant, stop by the Mammo Bus, on site from 2 to 6 that day. If possible, please RSVP for your screening, so the staff knows how many techs to have on board that afternoon. Call 239-936-4068 to reserve your spot ahead of time.

Before the bus arrives, take part in the many wonderful raffle prizes and silent auctions available, all donated from local businesses.

"The outpouring of support and donations this year has just been phenomenal, from hotel stays and restaurant gift certificates to spa, hair and nail packages and even gorgeous dresses and other merchandise," Lena said. "We have so many fantastic prizes for the raffles and silent auctions. Linda Shenk, Lisabet's mother, with the Lisabet Anna Beusing Foundation, has been doing a lot of work to help get this together. Patti has just been amazing, doing so much to get this together, from fliers to radio station interviews with 103.9-FM, Big Mama and the Wild Bunch a true dynamo. The Tabarrini Foundation will be out there that day, and has been such great help to us. And a shout-out to Dawn Gaylor, who has been busting her butt gathering up all of the prizes up and down the island. This community has really come together to make this the best Walk the Walk for Breast Cancer benefit to date. Thank you!"

As years past, the benefit's No. 1 benefactor, the Lisabet Anna Beusing Foundation will be on-site, sharing information about their organization and their cause, along with The Family Health Center and the Senior Friendship Center.

All are encouraged to attend the annual benefit, and don't forget your pink, as prizes are awarded for those who are dressed in the best pink outfit, as well!

"For those who may forget their pink, or want some extra, we'll have plenty of pink hairspray on hand that day," Lena laughed. "Paula Towell will be bartending at The Mermaid that day the hostess with the mostest, and I'll be dealing the poker cards!"

The cost to participate in the poker walk is $20, which includes a commemorative benefit T-shirt and bracelet. There is no cost at all if planning to attend simply for all of the fun at The Mermaid, from the raffles and silent auctions to laughs and good times, and to sign up at the Mammo Coach. You need not be present to win the silent auctions, but must be present to win the raffle prizes and 50/50s.

Additional donations for the raffles and silent auctions welcome, as well as monetary donations that go right to the cause of raising funds for Fort Myers Beach women getting mammograms and early detection. Call 239-765-9100 for more info. Poker run stops will be about an hour each, arriving at the first stop, the Beach Pub, around 11 a.m., arriving back at the Mermaid around 3:15. Enjoy a wealth of fun, 50/50s and more at each spot.

"It's supposed to be another perfect day for a walk and for a benefit sunny and cool," Lena said. "Come out, support this wonderful cause, get your early screening and don't forget your pink!"

Bingo Night at Val's Lounge

The Tabarrini Foundation has offered to donate all proceeds from Bingo Night Thursday, Oct. 16 to the cause. Taking place from 6 to 9 that evening, have fun playing $1 hands and $2 jackpot rounds.

"A big thank-you to the Tabarrini Foundation, who helps us every step of the way," Lena said.



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