Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Survivors Celebrate Life Buddy Check Marks 10 Years

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Survivors Celebrate Life Buddy Check Marks 10 Years

Article excerpt

Byline: Nicole Johnson McGill, Times-Union staff writer

Find a need and fill it.

Most successful ideas begin with a premise as simple as that, whether the idea is as small as a thimble or as complex as an automobile.

Ten years ago, Jeannie Blaylock of First Coast News saw a need to remind women to do breast self-exams. Early detection saves lives, so she teamed with Baptist Health and came up with the idea for Buddy Check 12, a kit with instructions for breast and testicular self-exams and calendar stickers that are placed on the 12th day of every month.

The stickers are reminders to do the self-exams, and to call "buddies" to remind them, too.

"It's a simple idea, but it's powerful," Blaylock said yesterday as she gathered with about 60 breast cancer survivors and their families and friends to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Buddy Check 12.

Since she began airing her monthly Buddy Check 12 segments, the program has been adopted by television stations in 50 U.S. cities and has gone international. Self-exam kits are used in 17 foreign countries.

Yesterday's observance was a garden party at the home of Vince and Linda Ferrigno in North Jacksonville. Linda Ferrigno is a survivor, and the event was the fulfillment of a promise she made to Blaylock years ago.

"I told her that if it was still going 10 years from now, I'd throw a party to celebrate," Ferrigno said.

The first buddies in the Buddy Check 12 program were Blaylock and her mother in Missouri. Neither woman had ever done the self-exams, but Blaylock had been motivated to start after one of her best friends from high school died of breast cancer at age 29.

When Blaylock decided to take her idea to her television station, she learned her simple idea was not as simple to sell.

"I had to convince the television station to show breasts on TV," Blaylock said. "I didn't want to show models. I wanted real women. I wanted to tell people it's OK to touch yourself."

After the first segment aired, more than 200 women called. Interest grew so much that the calls jammed the phone lines and a new system had to be installed, she said.

Blaylock has featured survivors every month, and in the Jacksonville area, 110 women say they owe their lives to Buddy Check 12. …

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