The Cancer Center of Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital teamed up on Saturday to host the 7th annual Cancer Prevention Fair for uninsured, underinsured and low-income community members.
The event offered free cancer screenings and information about cancer prevention for those that qualified. Different colored balloons were arranged in the hospital’s conference rooms, indicating various cancers — the pink balloon room offered clinical breast cancer exams and information, and a nearby room offered visual testing for oral cancer. In yet another room, volunteers provided take-home stool sample kits to test for colon cancer.
Cottage Hospital community health coordinator Dana Goba said the event promotes the programs and services the hospital provides.
“Most of the time people don’t know the resources are out there,” Goba said. “There are ways to help people, and there are resources. But on the flipside, we need the rest of the community to donate so we can support the patients who can’t pay. There’s so much help out there, it’s knowing where to turn that’s the hard part.”
Student volunteers from Santa Barbara City College and UCSB dressed in blue nursing scrubs and helped physicians administer information and exams.
“It takes about 100 volunteers to set up this operation,” Lindsay Groark, public relations coordinator at Cottage Hospital, said. “Usually we have about 300 attendees here to receive screening. Most of them are Spanish-speaking people of the Hispanic community.”
Event coordinators combated language barriers by providing interpreters to translate.
“Lots of the people who come aren’t fully literate, if at all,” Groark said. “We have a lot of translators and interpreters to help them communicate, and to fill out the forms. Attendees also bring their children to help them.”
Cottage Hospital provided visual aids for attendees who wanted to see the effects cancer has on the body. One booth featured formaldehyde-preserved organs damaged by cancer.
“One of the fun parts of the event is the body organs,” Goba said. “People can see what cancer looks like. The visual really helps because it’s inside of you, and it’s easy to ignore what you can’t see. But when people see the cancer, it’s more impactful.”
Megan Heer, third-year anthropology major, said the displays were eye-opening.
“I hadn’t thought about this kind of thing before I came here,” Heer said. “I didn’t even know you could get oral cancer before this, so even for me it was informative. I think it’s really important for the community that this is happening.”
Goba said she was pleased with the efforts made by local affiliates to reach out and support the community during the fair.
“I love that Cottage Hospital is supportive of these events,” Goba said. “We want to prevent these issues before they happen, which people sometimes think is strange because we’re trying to keep people out of the hospital”.
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