300 will attend tonights 20th anniversary For Women Only

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 May 2016 at 12:00 am

File photo by Tom Rivers – Aleka Schmidt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Albion, is a 10-year survivor of breast cancer. She is keynote speaker during this evening’s For Women Only event to benefit the Community Partners outreach program of Orleans Community Health.

LYNDONVILLE – The 20th annual For Women Only this evening not only celebrates a milestone anniversary for the event, but also will mark 10 years of being cancer-free for the keynote speaker.

Aleka Schmidt was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer when she was 28, shortly after her daughter’s second birthday.

In the fog of bloodwork, diagnostic imaging, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, hospitalization, and strong medication, life as a cancer patient soon became the new norm in her household.

Schmidt will share her story during the For Women Only event today at the White Birch Golf Course in Lyndonville. The event is already sold out with nearly 300 tickets sold.

Schmidt said everyone should get to know their body and be on the lookout for anything unusual that could be cancer.

“Speak up if you have a concern,” she said.

Cancer patients in Orleans County are fortunate to have quality healthcare options close to home, especially with cancer specialists in Rochester and Buffalo, she said.

She said people should maintain a positive outlook, even while fighting a potentially life-threatening disease.

“Choose to be better, not bitter,” she said.

Schmidt was working full-time as a music therapist when she was diagnosed. She has switched careers and now is pastor of the First Baptist Church in Albion. She is a semester away from earning her master of divinity at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. She continues to work part-time as a music therapist.

As part of the evening today, Jenifer Maynard, director of Imaging Services at Orleans Community Health, will present the new 4D ultrasound machine. The machine provides superior image quality for more accurate diagnoses.  Orleans Community Health started using the new ultrasound on Jan. 1.

The new ultrasound machine has high frequency, wide field-of-view probes and improved software for advanced breast imaging, improved sensitivity and powerful enough to scan all body types, and portability to accommodate patients and staff.

This year’s event will include wine and chocolate tastings, appetizers and desserts, basket raffle, survivor recognition and a celebration of women.  All funds raised from the event will benefit the Cancer Services program which provides free screenings to individuals with little to no health insurance.

The event raises about $5,000 that helps Community Partners, the outreach program Orleans Community Health, offer cancer screenings and also complete blood work.