North Adams Regional Hospital's lobby was packed, as over 130 reservations were made for this year's Girls Night Out.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — More than150 women attended Girls Night Out, an annual event at North Adams Regional Hospital that focuses on breast cancer awareness and women's health.
"This is great, it's a great way to engage the community," said an ecstatic Timothy Jones, the Northern Berkshire Healthcare president and CEO, on Thursday afternoon at the event coordinated by the Reach for Community Health foundation.
Information tables were set up throughout the first and ground floors of the hospital and featured information ranging from breast cancer awareness to healthy eating to reproductive care and more. Massage therapists were on hand, as well as reiki specialists to provide further stress relief.
The event promoted the importance of early cancer detection and participants had a chance to schedule future mammogram appointments.
"Well, I think it's a matter of making sure individuals know that early detection is of high importance," said state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, who survived a bout with cancer. "No one is too busy to take advantage of preventative health measures."
Also in attendance at this event were two Brazilian professionals visiting NBH through exchange program. Clarisia Ramos, of Sao Paulo, and Patricia Marinho, of Porto Alegre, arrived in North Adams on Tuesday and will spend a little over a week extensively exploring the area and visiting a massive list of programs to create an action plan, which they will present in Washington, D.C., during the final week of the six-week Professional Fellows Program.
"What I think our goal is to make sure that they got a broad picture of health care in the Northern Berkshires, but also to get to meet individuals, to get down to the everyday workings of the community," said Bonnie Clark, a physician liaison at NARH.
Clarisia Ramos and Patricia Marinho, the two Brazilian exchange professionals, brought some swag from the Southern Hemisphere.
Both Ramos and Marinho have close ties to breast cancer awareness. Ramos volunteers at the Union in Support of Combating Breast Cancer. Marinho volunteers at the Instituto da Mama, a non-profit breast cancer awareness and support group organization in Brazil.
"Our main object is to seek awareness about the importance of the care for breasts, and health, and early detection in case of breast cancer," Marinho said during an interview on Wednesday morning. "And I myself, I am a cancer survivor because I had the early detection because I was aware of my body and I knew when something was different and I want all the women to have the same opportunity that I had."
Marinho and Ramos will have a busy week experiencing the Berkshires volunteer and health-care scenes. They will visit Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, cancer support groups, and various volunteers and organizations up until Wednesday, Oct. 31.
After they present their plans at the nation's capital, they'll return to Brazil and try to use the ideas in their own work.
Although the main goal is to save lives, they said one huge difference between the two countries is the difficulty in raising money in Brazil. Marinho said the lack of charity-related tax deductions hurts private individual donations, but she remains positive that this can change.
"We hope to change this. Anything can change. People change all the time. And, hopefully, they will change for better," Marinho said. "Cancer is a very democratic illness because there's no color, money. Even if you're famous or not it, it affects everyone."
The Institute for Training and Development in Amherst won a grant from the Bureau for Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State to fund the fellowship program, which for this session features a total of 14 exchange professionals from Brazil. They will all meet in Washington for the final presentations.
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