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Calendar is a tribute to those surviving cancer

Karen Garloch
Karen Garloch writes on Health for The Charlotte Observer. Her column appears each Tuesday.

Micael Tewolde survived Ewing's sarcoma in 2005 and is moving on with medical school and life.

Gene Thompson feels fortunate to have survived skin cancer, bladder cancer and cancer of the parotid gland, thanks to early detection by skilled doctors and nurses.

Sharon Rodriguez is growing stronger and going to kindergarten, having survived neuroblastoma since 2005.

They are among 12 cancer survivors pictured in a 2009 calendar published this fall by Presbyterian Cancer Center and the Buddy Kemp Caring House.

The idea started with Tiffany Young, a clinical social worker at Buddy Kemp, where survivors gather regularly. Others at Presbyterian ran with her suggestion and asked cancer center employees to nominate patients whose personal stories had touched them.

The result is a “Stories of Survivorship” calendar with striking photographs – mostly black and white with touches of pink, orange, red, green and blue – of survivors with telling props, such as Tewolde's graduation cap and gown..

Charlotte photographer Kori Hoffman captured smiling people, from Charlotte and beyond, who tell of being loved by husbands and families, feeling blessed and glad to be alive.

To obtain a free calendar, call 704-384-5223. Donations are accepted.

Flu shots for voters

It's that time of year when we're thinking about the two “V's” – voting and vaccinations against the flu.

This year, Pike's Pharmacy will connect the two by offering flu shots for voters on Election Day (Nov. 4) at three precincts in its Shamrock Drive neighborhood – Merry Oaks, Windsor Park and Shamrock Gardens elementary schools.

It's part of a nonpartisan, national public health strategy called “Vote and Vax,” sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the nonprofit agency SPARC (Sickness Prevention Achieved Through Regional Collaboration).

When pharmacists Jesse Pike and Jennifer Barbour heard about the effort, they thought it would be a good way to “get more seniors to take the flu shot,” Pike said. “We're really worried about certain groups of people not taking advantage of flu shots, because we're looking for probably a bad flu season this year.”

Pike, Barbour and several professors from the UNC Chapel Hill School of Pharmacy will administer shots, with assistance from a dozen pharmacy students. With proper training and certification, pharmacists can now administer immunizations in 46 states, including the Carolinas.

“We will not be allowed to offer the flu shots to people before they vote,” Pike said. “But we'll be able to exhibit our posters and tell them about it while they're waiting in line.” The cost is $25 for anyone 18 and older, free for seniors with Medicare cards.

The first Vote and Vax clinics were held in 2006 at 127 polling sites in 14 states. Nearly 30 percent of those vaccinated had not received shots the year before.

This year, more than 200 Vote and Vax clinics are already scheduled. Pike's Pharmacy is the only Charlotte-area participant.

For more information: www.vote andvax.org.

Karen Garloch: 704-358-5078; kgarloch@charlotteobserver.com.

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