The Iowa State Fair was never a place I imagined visiting. But last week I found myself in the Farm Bureau tent at the Prevent Cancer Foundation and John Stoddard Cancer Center’s Health Awareness and Cancer Screening Booth. This is the ninth year the Foundation has been a part of the Fair. In the middle of an abundance of fried and sugary snacks, and a stream of presidential hopefuls biting into pork chops, shaking hands and snapping selfies with potential voters, something a little different was going on in our booth. Megan Ferguson, an RN, was providing free skin cancer screenings. Volunteering on her day off, she quietly examined arms, legs and heads of nearly 100 Iowans, identifying things that needed follow-up. People came to our booth, not to get typical fair foods and trinkets, but to get screened. There was never a time when someone wasn’t waiting to have their skin checked. With the current need for more accessible health care and education, many attendees appreciated the opportunity to receive a free screening at our booth while enjoying the state fair.
Visitors at the booth ranged from politicians to families, each leaving an impression on me. Our Honorary Co-Chairs Senator Chuck Grassley and Mrs. Barbara Grassley, a 27-year breast cancer survivor, connected one-on-one with fairgoers. Mrs. Grassley high-fived another breast cancer survivor when discussing their fight against cancer. The Grassleys have been a part of our booth at the Fair for years, encouraging their fellow Iowans to learn about cancer prevention.
I spoke to a young woman headed to college in a few weeks who stopped by to learn about cancer prevention with her mother, an 11-year survivor of leukemia. Family after family came over to play our game Spin the Wheel, a game about cancer prevention, and I was impressed by how many young children could correctly answer questions about the importance of healthy habits.
I left the Iowa State Fair feeling the huge impact that our screening and education booth can have on families. Amongst the fried food and competitive eating, we provide an opportunity for thousands of people to learn how healthy habits and regular cancer screenings can reduce their risk of cancer or possibly prevent it all together.
USA Today wants to know which state throws the best annual state fair- vote for Iowa here! You can vote once a day through September 28.
We are heading to the Kansas State Fair this weekend to spread the word on cancer prevention and early detection. Planning to attend? Come see us in the Sunflower Complex!