Husker Harvest Days visitors learn about variety of cancers

Thursday marked the final day of Husker Harvest Days, where agriculture takes center stage, but some vendors are also focused on health.
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 9:41 PM CDT
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WOOD RIVER, Neb. (KSNB) - Thursday marked the final day of Husker Harvest Days, where agriculture takes center stage, but some vendors are also focused on health.

Multiple health agencies set up shop to provide information to visitors. There were representatives from the Nebraska Cancer Coalition, Nebraska Cancer Specialist, CHI Health, and Mary Lanning Healthcare. Also, students from UNK and UNMC were providing blood pressure readings and free skin cancer screenings.

Visitors were able to get blood drawn for prostate PSA tests by a Nebraska Cancer Specialist and tour a lung dome exhibit showing how smoking and illness affect the lungs. Nebraska Cancer Coalition’s Laura Schabloske said cancer is the leading cause of death among Nebraskans, and prevention is the best medicine.

For men in Nebraska, lung cancer is the leading cause of death, while it ranks second for women. As for farmers, the chemicals they use can be a contributing factor.

“All of those things can be contributed factors. Unfortunately, there is no one magic thing that causes lung cancer,” said Laura Schabloske, Interim Executive Director of Nebraska Cancer Coalition. “You might be exposed to having radon levels and end up with that as an environmental concern. You may have a family history of lung cancer that causes you to have to go get that screening, Low Does CT Scan.”

Schabloske said they want to inform Nebraskans about lung cancer symptoms, the role of personal history, and visual representations of lung cancer. However, there’s no consistent method for lung cancer screenings.

During screenings, doctors will look for exposure to nicotine and environmental hazards. Schabloske said you have to be your own best advocate, and there are signs to watch for.

“Well it’s oftentimes when people become symptomatic when they have a cough all the time,” said Schabloske. “Or they might have some chest pain all the time. Or they may have had another screen that brought something up where they may have a spot on their lung. It’s really you as an individual Nebraskan listening to your own body and asking your doctor questions about why you feel the way you do.”

She said the Nebraska Cancer Coalition would love to put themselves out of business, meaning they want to conquer cancer. She added that educating yourself and early detection is pivotal to battling cancer, because if caught early, you can live many years past a cancer diagnosis.

“Well we are definitely screening a risk population,” said Kathy Murphy-Buschkoetter, Coordinator of Skin Cancer Screening. “Our farmers and our people in agriculture spend a lot of time in the sun and many of them do not take care of their skin like they should; and don’t always use sunscreen or wear wide brim hats.”

Murphy-Buschkoetter said for the nursing students, it gives them hands-on experience.