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 Police Chief Elvin Barren and Fire Chief Johnny Menifee pose on a giant inflatable chair at the event.

Police Chief Elvin Barren and Fire Chief Johnny Menifee pose on a giant inflatable chair at the event.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Southfield Police, fire officials kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published October 9, 2019

 Southfield resident Rosemerry Allen speaks to the crowd Oct. 6 at a kickoff for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Southfield resident Rosemerry Allen speaks to the crowd Oct. 6 at a kickoff for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Photo by Deb Jacques

SOUTHFIELD — To show their support for the women and men battling breast cancer, members of the Southfield Police and Fire departments hosted an event to boost awareness of the disease throughout October.

Police Chief Elvin Barren hosted the event.

“We are here to show support to those who are currently battling this disease. We’re here to show support to the family members who struggle with their loved ones to be treated with this disease,” Barren said.

Barren shared some statistics about breast cancer, which he called “alarming.”

“It is estimated that 41,670 women will die from breast cancer in the U.S. this year alone. It is estimated that 2,607 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer. And although it is rare, yes, young men, breast cancer affects us too,” Barren said. “One in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, and there are over 3.5 million breast cancer survivors.”

Barren showed off two police cars wrapped in pink decals to signify the month of awareness.

“It is our hope that when these vehicles are deployed, it will trigger and encourage the community to get treated,” he said. “Early detection and pre-screening saves lives.”

Mayor Ken Siver, who said he is a cancer survivor, commended the departments on their efforts.

“I have to hand it to the Police Department. This is on another level. These cars — this is incredible,” Siver said. “Every year, for many, many years, we have observed breast cancer month in the city of Southfield, and chief, you’ve taken it to a new dimension.”

Siver asked the crowd, by a show of hands, who has been affected by the disease. Nearly everyone raised a hand.

“My maternal grandmother passed from breast cancer. It was traumatic for my mother. She lost her mother at a very young age. It’s really all about early detection,” Siver said.

In addition to early detection, Siver said, it’s important to support cancer institutions financially and by spreading information about breast cancer.

Fire Chief Johnny Menifee said he has been personally affected by breast cancer.

“My grandmother is a 40-year surviovor of breast cancer, so it hits home. As well as on the Fire Department, we’ve shared family members who have had breast cancer on our jobs. So it’s really hit home with us,” Menifee said.

Menifee said he hopes the vehicles will spark residents to get preventative checks.

“That’s the hope, that when you see an emergency vehicle going down the road, cancer survivors will say, ‘Yeah. They salute us. They’re proud of us.’ If you’re actively fighting breast cancer, we fight with you,” Menifee said. “If you see it and go, ‘You know what? I’ve been putting off that mammogram. Maybe it’s time to make an appointment,’ and you schedule it, that’s the vision. That’s what we want to accomplish.”

Menifee said the Fire Department is currently selling shirts, the proceeds of which will go to providing free mammograms to members of the community.

Leann McDowell, the community development manager at the American Cancer Society, said the organization funds lifesaving breast cancer research.

“We are the organization, outside of the federal government, that is funding the most research grants right now,” she said. “Outside of the research, we do a lot right now. So whether you have not received a diagnosis or you’re going through a diagnosis right now, we are here to support you.”

McDowell also stressed the importance of early detection.

“What can you do to know your body and know if something’s wrong, and what measures can you take to live a healthy lifestyle to help decrease your odds of a cancer diagnosis?” McDowell said.

In addition to support programs and groups, the American Cancer Society has set up a 24/7 phone line, McDowell said, to help connect residents with resources at (800) 227-2345.

“If you need information on the resources available in your community, or ‘I just don’t know what to do and Google is giving me 5 million different directions to go,’ this phone number is available.”