• FREE CANCER SCREENINGS: March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, bringing attention to the type of cancer people are often too embarrassed to discuss. That’s why Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center at St. Tammany Parish Hospital launched a free online assessment at mbpstph.org/colorectal to help determine whether someone is at risk.
  • According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer remains the third-deadliest cancer in the U.S. among men and women despite decreases in death rates over the past two decades. It is expected to cause almost 50,000 deaths in the U.S. during 2015.
  • The primary risk factor for colorectal cancer (commonly called colon cancer) is age. More than 90 percent of cases are diagnosed in individuals older than 50, which is the recommended age to begin colorectal cancer screening unless there is a family history, in which case screenings should start earlier. Symptoms that sometimes occur include rectal bleeding, changes in bowel function, abnormal weight loss and abdominal pain.
  • Cancer Center staff will distribute free fecal immunochemical test (FIT) kits for home use on Friday, March 20, in Bogalusa and on Friday, March 27, in Mandeville.
  • The Bogalusa distribution will take place from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from noon to 2 p.m. at Nielsen’s Pharmacy, 1619 S. Columbia St. The Mandeville distribution will take place from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from noon to 2 p.m. at Walgreens, 2050 Florida St.
  • The take-home FIT kit, which must be picked up by the user, is not a substitute for a colonoscopy.
  • In Bogalusa on March 20, clinical breast exams will be offered for women of all ages. Mammograms are free and available for women 40 and older who have not been screened within the past 12 months. Insurance will be billed for mammograms. There will be no charge for women without insurance.
  • In Mandeville on March 27, physicians will check patients’ face, neck, lips and mouth for signs of oral cancer.
  • In both Bogalusa and Mandeville, skin cancer screenings will be available for anyone who has not had one within the past 12 months.
  • THE FREE SCREENINGS ARE MADE POSSIBLE BY DONOR GIFTS. FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO SCHEDULE A BREAST CANCER SCREENING, VISIT mbpstph.org/screenings or call (888) 616-4687.
  • GRIEF SUPPORT GROUP: A support group for parents who have experienced the loss of a child will meet at 7 p.m. Mondays, March 2 and 16 and April 6 and 20, at the St. Tammany Hospital Hospice office, 725 W. 11th Ave., Covington. For information, contact Ada Marion (985) 871-5974 or amarion@stph.org.
  • BREAST CANCER SUPPORT: A breast cancer survivor support group will meet from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays, March 3 and April 7, at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center at St. Tammany Parish Hospital, 1203 S. Tyler St., Covington. This free support group is open to anyone receiving treatment or who has completed treatment for breast cancer. For information, contact jfreudenberger@marybird.com or (985) 276-6832.
  • CHOKING RESCUE: Hands-on training in handling a choking emergency will be offered from 10:45 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. Wednesday, March 4, at the St. Tammany Parish Hospital Parenting Center, 1505 N. Florida St., Suite B, Covington. The cost is $5 for members, $10 for others.
  • BOOT CAMP FOR NEW DADS: Veteran dads will teach rookies about caring for a new baby — and a new mom — and the new fatherhood role from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 7, at the St. Tammany Parish Hospital Conference Center, 1202 S. Tyler St., Covington. The cost is $10. For information, call (985) 898-4435.
  • BREASTFEEDING SUPPORT: A lactation consultant will answer questions from expectant moms and new mothers from noon to 1 p.m. Thursdays, March 5 and April 2, at the St. Tammany Parish Hospital Parenting Center, 1505 N. Florida St., Suite B, Covington. The program is free. For information, contact ksupan@stph.org or (985) 898-4435.
  • BABY CHAT FOR SIBLINGS: The siblings of newborns will gain understanding about the changes that occur when mom and dad bring home a baby during Baby Chat for Siblings, from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 7, at the St. Tammany Parish Hospital Conference Center, 1202 S. Tyler St., Covington. There is no cost. For information, call (985) 898-4435.
  • BETTER BREATHERS: People diagnosed with lung disease will find support and information through the Better Breathers program from 10 a.m. to 11 am. Wednesday, March 11, at the Paul D. Cordes Outpatient Pavilion, 16300 Highway 1085, Covington. For information, call (985) 898-3785.
  • BREASTFEEDING INSTRUCTION: The St. Tammany Parish Hospital Parenting Center will hold an art of breastfeeding class from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Mondays, March 9 and 16, at 1505 N. Florida St., Suite B, Covington. Free. For information, call (985) 898-4083.
  • PLAY AND LEARN: Parents and their children, 16 months to 4 years, play and learn together through music and movement, arts and crafts, and storytime at the St. Tammany Parish Hospital Parenting Center, 1505 N. Florida St., Suite B, Covington. Classes with a “Circus Fun” theme will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. Tuesdays, March 10, 17 and 24. “Spring has Sprung” will be the theme for the classes on April 14, 21 and 28. Class size is limited to 12 parent/child couples. The cost is $15 per child for member, $24 for nonmembers. For information, contact ksupan@stph.org or (985) 898-4435.
  • BALLET: Kristen Zornman will teach a three-week series of ballet classes for children ages 2 and up at 10:30 a.m. Wednesdays, March 11, 18 and 25, at the St. Tammany Parish Parenting Center, 1505 N. Florida St., Suite B, Covington. The series will be repeated April 15, 22 and 29. The class costs $21 for members and $30 for others. To register or for information, contact ksupan@stph.org or (985) 898-4435.
  • CANCER SUPPORT GROUP: The Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center at St. Tammany Parish Hospital will host a cancer connection support group from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesdays, March 11 and April 14, at St. Tammany Parish Hospital, 1203 S. Tyler St., Covington. Family members and friends challenged by cancer diagnosis are invited to share experiences and quality of life after a cancer diagnosis. For information, contact Jane Freudenberger at jfreudenberger@marybird.com or (985) 276-6832.
  • CHILD SEAT INSPECTIONS: Free child safety seat inspections will be held from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursdays, March 12 and April 9, at the St. Tammany Parish Hospital Parenting Center, 1505 N. Florida St., Suite B, Covington. Call (985) 898-4435 to schedule an appointment.
  • INFANT/CHILD CPR: Skills for handling choking and breathing emergencies among children will be taught from 9 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. Saturday, March 14, at the St. Tammany Parish Hospital Parenting Center, 1505 N. Florida St., Suite B, Covington. This is not a CPR certification class. Register no later than one week prior to class. The cost is $20 for members, $25 for nonmembers and $10 per additional couple. To register or for information, contact ksupan@stph.org or (985) 898-4435.
  • PREPARED CHILDBIRTH: Fetal development, stages of labor and anesthesia options are among the topics that will be discussed during a prepared childbirth class to be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays, March 17 and 24, at the St. Tammany Parish Hospital Conference Center, 1202 S. Tyler St., Covington. For information, call (985) 898-4083.
  • BABY CARE BASICS: Helpful hints on caring for a new baby will be shared from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesdays, March 18 and 25, and April 15 and 22, at the St. Tammany Parish Hospital Conference Center, 1202 S. Tyler St., Covington. Free. For information, call (985) 898-4083.
  • QUIT SMOKING: Tools and resources to quit smoking for good will be offered through a series of nine weekly classes on Wednesdays from noon to 1 p.m. or from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., March 18 through May 13, through St. Tammany Parish Hospital. This free program requires reservations, which can be made by calling (985) 898-4468. Refreshments will be provided.
  • SURVIVE DAT!: A breast cancer support group for young survivors will meet at 7 p.m. Thursdays, March 19 and April 16, at the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center at St. Tammany Parish Hospital, 1203 S. Tyler St., Covington. All are welcome regardless of where treatment was received. For information, contact jfreudenberger@marybird.com or (985) 276-6832.
  • PREPARING FOR CHILDBIRTH: A class focused on using Lamaze techniques will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 21, at the St. Tammany Parish Hospital Conference Center, 1202 S. Tyler St., Covington. All aspects of the birthing process and methods of delivery are discussed. Relaxation and pain control techniques will be practiced. The cost is $50. For information, call (985) 898-4083.
  • CO-PARENTING CLASSES: A series of two classes for divorcing parents who want to keep their children from becoming children in the middle will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays, March 23 and 30. The series will be repeated April 20 and 27. There’s also a children’s version for ages 6-12 years, held at the same times, to provide children help with issues they may confront as their parents go through a divorce. Register no later than 1 p.m. on the Friday prior to the first session. To register or for information, contact ksupan@stph.org or (985) 898-4435.
  • EASTER EGG HUNT: Families will gather for an Easter egg hunt and party from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 31, at the St. Tammany Parish Hospital Parenting Center, 1505 N. Florida St., Suite B, Covington. The cost is one dozen filled eggs per child and a snack to share at the party. For information, contact ksupan@stph.org or (985) 898-4435.
  • HELP FOR PTSD: Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder may benefit from a variety of treatments offered by the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System. For information, call (800) 935-8387 or visit www.ptsd.va.gov. For veterans in crisis, call (800) 273-8255 and press 1, chat online at veteranscrisisline.net, or send a text message to 838255. Confidential support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.