Being Candid about Breast Cancer

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Oct. 10, 2017 – Spectrum Health will once again bring the community together to focus on a life-threatening disease that continues to impact thousands of families in West Michigan.

Candid Conversations, a free community event celebrating National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, will be held from 4 to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 18. The event will be held in the East Kentwood High School Auditorium, 6230 Kalamazoo Avenue SE, Grand Rapids. Light refreshments will be served.

Speakers this year include Emmy Rickert, a survivor, who will share her story of  being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 24 and her subsequent care journey. Susan Ford Bales will speak about the importance of awareness and screening in honor of her mother, the late First Lady Betty Ford, who was the first public figure to openly discuss her personal experience with breast cancer.

Community health experts will also share information on breast cancer genetics, risks and survivorship:

  • Judith Hiemenga, MD, Spectrum Health Medical Group – Genetics
  • Diana Bitner, MD, Spectrum Health Medical Group – Fertility and cancer menopause
  • Paul Wright, MD, Spectrum Health Medical Group – Risks and prevention/survivorship
  • Shannon Wilson – Director, Grand Rapids African American Health Institute – Health disparities and inequalities

This is the fifth Candid Conversations sponsored by the Spectrum Health Cancer Center and Spectrum Health’s Betty Ford Breast Care Services. Registration is available at

“We know that one in eight women will develop breast cancer during her lifetime. Our hope is that those who attend Candid Conversations leave feeling empowered to take charge of their breast health,” said Judy L. Smith, MD, chief of the Spectrum Health Cancer Center. “We want to raise awareness by talking candidly about breast health. Hopefully, we motivate people to explore and understand what options are available to them so that they take action.”


Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system, based in West Michigan, offering a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, which is comprised of 12 hospitals, including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital; 180 ambulatory and service sites; 3,600 physicians and advanced practice providers, including 1,500 members of the Spectrum Health Medical Group; and Priority Health, a health plan that served 996,000 members in fiscal year 2017. Spectrum Health is West Michigan’s largest employer, with 26,000 employees. The organization provided $372 million in community benefit during its 2017 fiscal year. Spectrum Health was named one of the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems—and in the top five among the largest health systems—in 2017 by Truven Health Analytics®, part of IBM Watson HealthTM. This is the sixth time the organization has received this recognition.

Susan Krieger
Media Relations
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