The parking lots around The Centre were over-flowing for the 3rd Annual Health and Wellness Expo on Saturday morning. Phelps County Regional Medical Center (PCRMC), Rolla Parks and Recreation and The Centre sponsored the day that included PCRMC’s Breast Cancer Awareness March, the Expo which included around 60 vendors, silent auction and a scavenger hunt. Rolla’s Finest German Band provided upbeat music.
Due to rain threatening the March, the decision was made to hold it indoors on The Centre’s track. That left those that brought pets (decorated in pink attire) to join the walkers, out of the March.

Dr. Tim Isakson, an OBGYN at Phelps County Regional Medical Center, gave the opening remarks.
“The focus with the walk is exercise and how that can reduce the risk of breast cancer, (and should you be diagnosed with breast cancer) help you tolerate the treatments, surgery and reduce the risk of reoccurrence should you have breast cancer.”
In general, Dr. Isakson said that exercise, with other preventative measures, reduces the chances of developing a myriad of cancers in the body. “Identifying people at risk for breast cancer, breast exams and annual screenings, particularly women 35 to 40 years of age at a baseline risk for breast cancer is important,” he said.  He said the thing to remember is, “Breast cancer can be detected early with screening.”

Many Expo visitors took advantage of free health screenings—carotid artery ultrasounds to check for plaque buildup and also whole blood cholesterol checks. Mark Trawick was waiting for the carotid artery scan. He said he was a smoker and was a little nervous about the procedure. “I’m here because my wife wanted me checked,” he joked. Paullette Jones RDCS, RVT was one of the registered sonographers on site to conduct the test. An ultrasound wand was placed near Mark’s arteries that run up the neck—no hum, whir or buzz—just a quick wave of the wand on Mark’s neck and Paullette’s trained eyes on the computer monitor that recorded the results. Whether it was telling or not, Mark left the room without his paperwork and one of the sonographers had to find him to receive his results.

In the other room, sat PCRMC Lab Specimen Process Supervisor Stephanie Jackson and James Donnelly, a lab assistant checking cholesterol with a whole-blood cholesterol meter. Unlike the carotid artery plaque check, this procedure was invasive with a pin prick to draw a little blood for the meter.
Stephanie says it is a good idea to get your cholesterol checked annually. “It can take up to six months for your diet to affect your cholesterol reading,” she said.

Charlene Fraley was getting her cholesterol checked. She wore a tee-shirt advertising a Public House race event that read “Will work for wine” on the back of the shirt. She showed a photo that at first glance, wasn’t someone anyone knew. Turns out, the obese person in the photo was her, but the person in the photo didn’t resemble a now-slim Charlene. The transformation was hard to believe.
“That photo was about four years ago,” she explained. I just got up one morning, hurting, and I just said ‘this has to stop.’ I don’t feel good anymore, so I have got to try [exercise]. At that time, she was buying her clothes in the men’s section of a clothing store—the only clothes that would fit her.
She said she has been on diets her whole life, off and on. As a mother with twins, she’d hit many fast-food restaurants out of convenience, plus, she was taught never to throw food away. “Why am I eating cold french fries (leftover from the girls)?” she’d ask herself. On top of that, any exercise program she had tried in the past could only best be described as “fits and starts,” never becoming a habit, much less a healthy lifestyle.  
But she had a plan. Living outside of town, she said she would start out walking down to the neighbor’s mailbox. Then she’d walk to the next neighbor’s mailbox. “Mailbox to mailbox,” she called it. She said that first mailbox was twenty-five steps, but she built from that—she was creating a habit. On the same day she walked 25 steps to the neighbor’s mailbox, she cut her meal portions in half.
“I just kept on saying, ‘I’m not hungry anymore,’” she shared. For her, it was as simple as eating an egg, but no toast. She might have one piece of bacon instead of three. For lunch, she would make a sandwich with only one piece of bread. She started watching her weight scales daily, but got discouraged when she didn’t see results, so she quit watching and would get back on the scales after a month. It took a month or longer to see the changes wrought from her good habits.
“Five pounds—oh my gosh!” she exclaimed. She said it was important for her to stop worrying about weight and body fat and to just let her new lifestyle take its course.
She started to get compliments—people noticed her reduced figure. It was a surprise to her that people started to notice. “It makes you feel good,” she added.
Then, her doctor told her he was taking her off of the obesity list. Those were the sweetest words she could have heard and she gets emotional just thinking about that day. “That was probably the best day of my life.”
Adding to her triumph of overcoming obesity is the fact that she worked at The Center for twelve years with her obesity condition before she decided to get started on her “mailbox-to-mailbox” program. She was surrounded by people all day doing the things they felt they needed to do to lead a healthy life—but Charlene didn’t want to join in.
“Why couldn’t I just walk over to exercise?—I would just walk out the door,” she said.
She started to exercise at The Centre six or seven months into her program, walking in the pool. “I was intimidated about being over there with the girls,” she said. But she got her courage and confidence up to exercise in the main room. “I exercised there at noon and there were some men from Brewer Science [working out] there,” she said. “They cheered me on every day—they still do when I go over there.”
Everybody at The Centre encouraged me—try this, do this. I should say the community gave me the strength to do this. It makes me feel good that we have a very caring community—when people see others struggling, they’re there to help.
Charlene’s twins are proud of her accomplishments and she is too. She was headed out the door—probably to go exercise.