By Sgt. Jesus J. Aranda Jr., U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command Public AffairsNovember 12, 2015
FORT BELVOIR, Virginia -- The U.S. Amy Intelligence and Security Command and U.S. Army Cyber Command invited Soldiers, Army civilians, contractors and guests to their headquarters to observe the serious issues of cancer with a special breast cancer/cancer awareness event Oct. 22. The event organizers decorated a portion of the headquarters lobby in pink and loaded a meeting room with pink prizes, food, giveaways and informative cancer awareness and screening literature.
While the event was fun for staff and guests, Charles Sardo, INSCOM's deputy chief of staff, reminded everyone that the main reason for the event is to educate the INSCOM and ARCYBER workforce about the deadly disease.
"This is about our workforce and our workforce's health awareness," Sardo said. "When folks come through today the expectation is that they're going to learn something that will make a difference to their health -- especially about breast cancer awareness."
The event was planned, organized and executed by INSCOM and ARCYBER staff -- some of whom are related to, or are cancer survivors themselves. One such survivor is Beryl Patterson, lead planner for the annual event since its inception in 2013, diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012.
"While I was going through chemo treatments, tests, follow-up appointments and surgeries I wondered why the commands were not talking more about breast cancer and cancer awareness here at INSCOM and ARCYBER, since so many are affected by it," said Patterson. "Many supporters came forward to share their stories, those of family members, friends and even battle buddies who are cancer survivors or a loved one who lost their battle with cancer."
With enthusiasm growing each year, so too has the attendance and scope of the events. Participation in the annual Volksmarch, a walk or run around nearby areas of Fort Belvoir, doubled from last year with lines forming outside the Nolan Building prior to the event.
This year, INSCOM and ARCYBER welcomed a special guest speaker who also survived breast cancer.
Nekeia Butler, originally diagnosed with stage zero breast cancer which was later upgraded to stage one, credited her self-testing with her survival and shared her story with upbeat humor and optimism to the event attendees.
Butler found the tumor herself while she was in the shower doing a self-check breast exam.
"That's my diagnosis. It's not who I am. I don't want to be defined by my life challenges because I think if we let all of our life challenges define us all we'd all be wearing a lot of doom and gloom," said Butler. "I don't have cancer and cancer doesn't have me."
Butler's outlook was applauded and appreciated by those in attendance and praised by the event planners, including Sardo, who thanked all involved in making this year's event a success because of its true goal: the best protection is early detection.
"Cancer effects all of us in some way, shape or form so the thanks to the volunteers isn't just for this amazing display and the Volksmarch, the thanks is because you're going to make us a little bit more aware," said Sardo.
Each October the color pink becomes much more popular. INSCOM and ARCYBER will continue promoting awareness each year with this event.