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Family Cancer Fair returns next week

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Jessica Smith

Following up on last year’s success, organizers of the Family Cancer Fair, the Atikokan Family Health Team, will stick with a winning combination of information, activities, entertainment and shopping at the Voyageur Mall this year, while doubling the number of exhibitors and adding local entertainment to the line-up.

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The fair will be held Wednesday, November 9, 3-7 pm. The mall merchants, Home Hardware and Little Darlings are staying open that evening and many of the merchants are also offering tax-free purchases.

Last year’s turnout – 350 – exceeded expectations and organizers are hoping to attract even higher numbers this time around.

Exhibitors will be set up throughout the mall, offering a wide range of information on cancer prevention, diagnosis, and support available within the community and region, with Osisko Hammond Reef Gold again sponsoring a children’s activities centre, and Voyageur Books & Gifts hosting hourly story times.

Several local musicians will be performing throughout the evening, and “if anyone is interested in singing or playing music, [let us know]” said Kerri Hensrud who along with RN Keira Lacosse is organizing the event.

The schools have been invited to take part and “if someone wants to bring their art down, they can do that, whether it’s a quilt, picture or poem,” said Lacosse.

A children’s art display will feature works expressing personal feelings about cancer.

Last year, children contributed to a poster, expressing their feelings about how the disease had affected their lives and “some of the things they wrote were really inspiring,” said Lacosse. “We were glad they were able to express their feelings.”

Cancer prevention (healthy eating and lifestyle choices: sun safety, smoking cessation and routine screening like pap smears, etc.) begins young, she said.

The event offers hope because “there are lots of cancers that can be cured if caught early enough,” she said, adding that the Fair comes on the heels of October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month and last week’s Cervical Cancer Awareness Week.

The event will provide a range of information, from prevention and pre-diagnosis to diagnosis and even palliative care options. Facing a cancer diagnosis is scary, but being informed about the options for services and care can help alleviate some of the stress. A comprehensive information binder, in addition to countless reps from different agencies, will be available to assist patients and families navigate a complex system.

“It’s important for people to realize how great the Thunder Bay Regional Cancer Care is; they offer great support,” said Lacosse. Exhibitors include: ANFC, Community Counselling, Atikokan’s prostate cancer support group, Northwestern Health Unit, Relay for Life committee, Canadian Cancer Society, Smokers’ Helpline, Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, Thunder Bay Regional’s cancer and supportive care, Family Health Team, Palliative Care, Atikokan Public Library, and a pewter Comfort Hearts and baked goods table. The Handi-Van is providing free transportation to and from the event; call 597-7612 for a ride during the event.

(For more info on the Fair, contact Hensrud at 597-2721, ext. 4.)

“There’s something for everyone and that’s why it’s called the Family Cancer Fair.”

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