Wellness in brief: Honoring pediatric cancer patients, boosting breast cancer research

KINDNESS ROCKS: Pediatric brain tumor patient Cami Green, daughter of Well Played Board Game Café owner Steve Green and Kathrine Green, has experienced remarkable results from treatment with an experimental drug at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The Greens will celebrate the courage demonstrated by Cami and other pediatric cancer patients with an event at the café on Sunday, Sept. 15, 1-4 p.m. Photo courtesy of Well Played Board Game Café

For Well Played Board Game Café owner Steve Green, an event planned for Sunday, Sept. 15, hits very close to home. Last June, Green’s daughter Cami was discovered unresponsive in her bedroom. Following emergency medical treatment at Mission Hospital and diagnostic procedures at other hospitals, Green and his wife, Kathrine, received terrible news: Cami had five high-grade glioma brain tumors. Doctors said she had six months at most to live. 

Just days before a planned surgery, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., contacted the Greens to offer an experimental drug treatment. The family took a leap of faith, forgoing surgery and proceeding with the new drug. Cami experienced a remarkable turnaround in her condition, with three of the five tumors disappearing within two months. She now takes targeted chemotherapy daily, Steve Green says, and the family travels to St. Jude Children’s every four weeks for monitoring. Cami began attending kindergarten this year.

At St. Jude Children’s, Cami met fellow clinical trial patient Brody Nelson, who recently died. Nelson was known for his Legos for Little Warriors campaign, which collected and distributed gifts of Legos to hospitalized children.

At Well Played’s Sept. 15 event, which runs 1-4 p.m. at 58 Wall St., new and unopened Legos will be collected in Nelson’s honor; donations of the card game UNO will also be accepted. Using supplies provided by the cafe, attendees can create greeting cards and paint “kindness rocks” to send to patients at St. Jude Children’s and Mission Children’s Hospital. 

Cami Green will be on hand to present a “special treat” to the first 100 people to participate.

Strong and pink

The unexpected sight of pink steel beams at a construction site at 145 Biltmore Ave. is an eye-catching aspect of an effort to raise $100,000 for breast cancer research. Launched on Sept. 4, the online fundraising campaign (avl.mx/6hi) runs through Thursday, Oct. 31, and overlaps with Breast Cancer Awareness Month throughout October.

At the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, which begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, at Pack Square, one of the beams will be available for participants to inscribe with messages. On Friday, Oct. 18, the signed beam will be raised on the construction site, where it will remain on public view for several days. More information and registration for the walk is at avl.mx/6hj.

“We are thrilled to partner with Dave Steel Co., Beverly-Grant and 60 West Investments on this unique campaign to bring awareness to breast cancer in Asheville,” said Julia Storto, Southeast community manager for American Cancer Society, the organization that will receive the funds.

According to a press release, “Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers. Currently there are more than 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. This includes women still being treated and those who have completed treatment.”

More health happenings

  • A veterans town hall at the Charles George VA Medical Center will present information and updates on VA services and provide an opportunity to ask questions of executives and key staff members. Meets Thursday, Sept. 12, at 5 p.m. inside the main entrance in the lower level of the atrium at 1100 Tunnel Road. 
  • The Progressive Alliance of Henderson County will partner with Project Dignity WNC to collect feminine personal hygiene products for women and girls in need. Drop off donations of products or cash contributions 4:30-6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13, at Sanctuary Brewing Co., 147 First Ave. E,  Hendersonville.
  • The WNC Run/Walk for Autism, sponsored by the Autism Society of North Carolina, steps out at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14, at Bill Moore Community Park, 85 Howard Gap Road, Fletcher.  The event includes a competitive 5K and a 1K fun walk/run and is open to all. Registration is $25; more information at avl.mx/6hn.
  • The YMCA of Western North Carolina announced that September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, noting that nearly one in five children in the United States are affected. The Y urged families to eat and drink healthy, play outside every day, dine together as a family, reduce recreational screen time and ensure a regular schedule that provides sufficient rest (10-12 hours per night for children; eight hours for adults). 
  • Four Seasons will host a support group for those who have lost loved ones to drug overdose this fall. Sessions are provided at no cost to participants and will be held at Wells Event Center, 33 Wells Events Way, Waynesville, 1-2:30 p.m. on Fridays beginning Oct. 4 and running through Nov. 8. Contact facilitator Dan Yearick at 828-692-6178 for more information and to register. 

BRH offers hepatitis C screening

In response to rising rates of hepatitis C infections across the United States, Blue Ridge Health is offering free screening to those belonging to an at-risk group, including baby boomers and injection drug users.

According to a press release from the nonprofit health care system, people born from 1945-65 are five times more likely to have the liver infection than other adults, and most who are infected do not experience symptoms.

The most common cause of new infections is through injection drug use, but exposure can also result from a long-ago contaminated blood transfusion, a needle-stick injury or having been born from an infected mother.

“Over the past five years, North Carolina has experienced an increase in reported acute hepatitis C cases by over 300%, with the highest rates reported in Western counties,” Blue Ridge Health reported.

“We recommend that anyone born between 1945-65 or those at risk for other reasons be screened. It’s better to know and be linked to care than to suffer long-term health consequences or transmit the disease to others,” said Isla Neel, Blue Ridge Health counselor.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 828-692-4289 or visit brchs.com.

People in health and wellness

  • AdventHealth Hendersonville announced additions to its staff including urology specialist Dr. Nina Harkhani and social worker Pauline “Poppy” Dyer, who will provide behavioral health services for geriatric and medically complex adult patients in conjunction with internal and family medicine physicians.

    OPEN FOR BUSINESS: Members of AdventHealth and the Brevard/Transylvania Chamber of Commerce celebrate the ribbon-cutting for the new AdventHealth Medical Group Family Medicine at 123 E Main St., Brevard. Photo courtesy of AdventHealth Hendersonville
  • Chasity Burleson opened Fulflow Yoga Studio at 331 New Leicester Highway.
  • Registered nurse Laura Chambers, who serves patients at the AdventHealth Medical Group Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine at Medical Office Building, a hospital department of AdventHealth Hendersonville, has received the DAISY Foundation Award for exceptional care.
  • Registered nurses Marche’ Tucker and Jennifer White of Pardee UNC Health Care have been named to the Great 100 Nurses in North Carolina by The Great 100, Inc.
  • Allied Universal Security will host a hiring fair for hospital security officers on Wednesday, Sept. 11, and Wednesday, Sept. 18, at Holiday Inn & Suites Asheville-Biltmore Village Area, 186 Hendersonville Road. Open interviews will be held 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Online application available at avl.mx/6hm.
  • Lisa Gundersen was named clinical operations director of cancer services for AdventHealth Hendersonville, where she has worked since 2008. 

PRAISE Initiative celebrates five years

Over the past five years, a number of local African American churches have partnered with UNC Asheville and ABIPA (the Asheville Buncombe Institute of Parity Achievement) to promote the health of their congregations and their families and communities. On Aug. 26, the efforts of 12 local churches were honored at a dinner for participants in the Preventive Health Education Resulting in Action Inspiring Success for Everyone (PRAISE) initiative.

PRAISE BE: A large contingent from Tried Stone Missionary Baptist Church of Asheville came to UNC Asheville to celebrate the five years of “PRAISE,” the health promotion partnership between UNC Asheville, ABIPA and local African American churches. Photo courtesy of UNC Asheville

“This initiative started out as an acronym on a white board,” said Ameena Batada, UNC Asheville associate professor of health and wellness, according to a press release. “Just five years later, we are seeing and hearing big changes in the lives of church members, and our evaluation results support what we hear anecdotally. The PRAISE Initiative contributes to greater knowledge of personal health, healthier church meals, increased fruit and vegetable consumption and regular physical activity among congregation members.”

“The PRAISE Awards celebration was a wonderful time to reflect on all of our collaborative hard work and how far we have come as individuals and a community,” said ABIPA Executive Director JéWana Grier-McEachin. “Ultimately, as we continue to shift the culture of health, one congregation and one person at a time, that make up one community, we look forward to the amazing things that we will continue to do together during the next year and beyond!”

As part of the PRAISE initiative, ABIPA provides guidance, workshops and health screenings in partnership with the churches; UNC Asheville faculty and undergraduate researchers conduct the program evaluation.



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