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Petty Officer 3rd Class Kari Riggs is participating in a 60-mile, three-day walk to raise funds for breast cancer research.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Kari Riggs is participating in a 60-mile, three-day walk to raise funds for breast cancer research. (Fred Zimmerman / S&S)

CAMP LESTER, Okinawa — “No matter what you call ’em, if you love ’em, save ’em!”

So goes the slogan Petty Officer 3rd Class Kari Riggs is putting on T-shirts she’s selling to help raise money for breast cancer research.

The T-shirts list 14 different slang terms for breasts — and at the bottom, the slogan says it all.

Riggs has signed up to participate in a three-day, 60-mile fundraising walk in Florida’s Tampa Bay area this October that will benefit The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and the National Philanthropic Trust.

Twelve such walks are held throughout the country each year.

Each walker commits to raising $2,200 for research and community outreach programs when they sign up, Riggs said. Her goal is $4,000, and she already has $500 pledged.

Riggs said she learned of the walk from her aunt, Sandy Powers, who completed last year’s Tampa Bay event.

While she doesn’t know anyone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, Riggs said she signed up because she likes to volunteer.

And being a woman, she added, naturally she is concerned about breast cancer.

“If a woman in [chemotherapy] is going to benefit from me doing this walk, why not,” said Riggs, who works in the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa Dermatology Clinic. “I feel selfish being so healthy. Knowing that I’m able to do this walk makes me feel obligated to do it for those who can’t.”

While an injury is preventing her aunt from completing the walk with her, Riggs said she will have her aunt’s support as she crews with people who tend to the walkers, including setting up and tearing down a mobile tent city where participants sleep.

To get ready for the long haul, Riggs said she has simply been walking, either around Camp Lester or along the seawall.

When she does train, she said, she wears a T-shirt that says, “Ask me why I’m training to walk 60 miles in three days.”

To find out more about the walk, go to the3day.org. Donate to Riggs’ effort at http://the3day.org/tampabay06/kariggs, or e-mail her at kari_riggs@hotmail.com.

Who should get mammograms and when

CAMP LESTER, Okinawa — U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa is targeting women 40 and older to remind them to get annual mammograms to check for breast cancer.

“The earlier the detection, the earlier the treatment,” said Navy Lt. Lorrie Meyer, the division officer for the hospital’s Breast Clinic. “The earlier the woman finds the lump, the better the outcome of the patient.”

Meyer, the division officer for the hospital’s Breast Clinic, said chances of women developing breast cancer increase greatly with age.

For women in their 20s, the potentially deadly disease strikes 1 in 2,152, she said. At between ages 30 and 40 the chances increase to 1 in 251, and then to 1 in 69 among women ages 40 to 60.

She said women should perform monthly self-exams, feeling for any lumps from the armpit area and throughout their breasts. Women who are 40 and above should be getting yearly exams from their medical provider and a mammogram, Meyer said. Exams and mammograms should start sooner for women who have a family history of breast cancer, she said.

Women in the Marine Corps and Navy, she added, will soon be required to receive a breast exam as part of deployment readiness screenings.

For more information on breast cancer and self-exams, Meyer recommends the Web site: breasthealth.com. For details on how to receive an exam or mammogram on Okinawa, women should contact their primary care manager or call Meyer at DSN 643-7766.

— Fred Zimmerman

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