PIKEVILLE – The Pikeville Medical Leonard Lawson Cancer Center (LLCC) outreach program reaches hundreds of people every month with a message about cancer: The best defense against cancer is prevention and early detection.
Registered nurse Nell Bedwell relays this message to the public as outreach coordinator at the LLCC.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that Kentucky has the highest cancer death rate in the United States. Two-hundred-one of every 100,000 people died of cancer in 2012, according to the latest data that is available.
In addition to this fact, the Kentucky Cancer Registry reports that the Appalachian Mountain region has the state’s highest cancer death rate.
Bedwell believes that education is a key element in reducing the number of deaths. “I educate people about how to prevent cancer,” said Bedwell. “They need to know about screening opportunities, the importance of annual medical care and eating a healthy diet. But most of all, people should stop smoking and if they don’t smoke, do not start.”
She takes cancer literature and speaking notes on the road to community groups throughout Pike and surrounding counties. Bedwell has spoken at libraries, state parks, conference centers, shelter areas and even warehouses.
Bedwell also works with cancer support groups helping patients and their families cope with cancer. “Being able to answer their questions and to help them move on from a cancer diagnosis is rewarding,” said Bedwell. “They need to know that there is life beyond cancer.”
Bedwell enjoys working with the After Breast Cancer (ABC) support group which was created 13 years ago. The group is dedicated to providing education, information and emotional support to those who are facing biopsy, surgery, or recovery from breast cancer and female cancers.
The ABC support group meets the first Monday of every month at 6 pm at the cancer center.
Other cancer support groups that she works with are the American Cancer Society’s Look Good, Feel Good program which teaches beauty techniques to cancer patients and Man-to-Man which is an educational and support group for men who have prostate cancer.
Bedwell leads a smoking cessation class which teaches behavior modifications, social support and tips on how to quit. There is no charge for the class and participants receive free nicotine patches. Bedwell, a former smoker, relates well to the challenges faced when trying to kick this habit.
As an LLCC Outreach Coordinator, Bedwell is an advocate for cancer patients and works to raise money for those who are underinsured or those who need help with the high cost of cancer treatment. She works with PMC’s Colors of Courage 5K and the Hot Pink Cool Blues event which together raised more than $40,000 in 2015.
She is active in the local chapters of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk and the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life which raise money for cancer research.