With the YWCA recently announcing its decision to shut down its breast cancer program, the agency held its final Pink Tea Luncheon Thursday in honor of those fighting and surviving breast cancer.

Following a loss of funding from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and cosmetic company Avon, the YWCA chose to close its Encore Plus Program, which had been providing breast cancer awareness to the St. Joseph area since 1994.

That same year, the Pink Tea Luncheon was created, an event that invited community members to learn about breast cancer prevention and encouraged those dealing with breast cancer in their lives.

“It impacts a lot of us that have family members who have been impacted or friends and close ones that have been impacted by breast cancer,” Tammy Killin, YWCA CEO, said. “So it’s a very important topic for us to discuss.”

Thursday’s luncheon marked one of the final events for the YWCA when it comes to its breast cancer awareness program.

“It was a difficult decision. It continues to be a difficult decision, especially when we do events like today,” Killin said. “This really is our last hurrah for an event with breast cancer awareness and prevention for the Encore Plus Program.”

During the event, Stacie Biller, a nurse practitioner, talked to attendees about genetic research on breast cancer, advancing technology in the field and prevention methods.

After the discussion, Killin said she felt the Encore Plus Program had advanced the cause of breast cancer awareness in the local area, but now it is time to pass the torch to other agencies.

“I think that’s nice that we will have that continue in our community through wonderful providers and agencies such as Mosaic, Northwest Health Services and, of course, the Social Welfare Board, which is very involved in women’s health,” Killin said. “So that makes us feel better, that the efforts will continue.”

Not only are other agencies continuing to educate on breast cancer, but community members are stepping in to take over programs the YWCA previously hosted.

“I’ve met with a few of them that have said, ‘Would you be OK if we continue this,’ and we would absolutely love if somebody would continue this legacy,” Killin said. “So I think you really will find people in the community in the next year.”

One final breast cancer awareness event will take place at the YWCA next week. Celebration Rosa focuses on the impact of breast cancer in the Hispanic population and is planned for Thursday, Oct. 24, at 304 N. Eighth St.

Jessika Eidson can be reached at jessika.eidson@newspressnow.com.

Follow her on Twitter at @NPNowEidson

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