Free cancer screenings available Saturday at Fest For Life

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - On Saturday, April 12, the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center will offer free screenings for cancer. It's called Fest For Life, part of the center's community outreach to educate the public and raise awareness for cancer and general health.

One woman in Zachary says the screening she had last year saved her life.

Bertina Dent says in 2013 she felt a knot in her breast while in the shower. Her mother urged her to get it checked out. Dent called around to make an appointment, but says there was some hesitation due to her finances. She says she then found free help when she was connected to Mary Bird. She was told they were having their annual Fest For Life event.

"I remember the doctor saying it feels like your knot is stuck," Dent said. "Cancer never crossed my mind."

At 33, she was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer, triple negative, and it had spread to the lymph nodes.

"I began chemotherapy immediately around the end of May. After chemo I had surgery, where I decided to do a double mastectomy and have the lymph nodes removed out of the arm."

She's now urging other women to look for help when they discover something may not be quite right with their bodies.

"It's an opportunity for us to share with the community the importance of early detection," said Johnnay Benjamin, the Director of Early Education at the center.

She says Fest For Life isn't just about breast cancer. It also includes screening for skin, prostate, colorectal, and oral cancers.

Benjamin says there will also be screenings for cholesterol, blood pressure, and glucose.

Nearly 600 people were tested at the event last year. Dent says her diagnosis has made a major impact on her life.

"I want to live a long healthy life and I tell people I'll be here as long as the good Lord bless me to be here. We need to do our part also knowing our bodies."

Fest For Life is Saturday at the Bon Carre Business Center, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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