By Judy O’Gorman Alvarez
RED BANK – Two borough shop owners emphatically believe you should Go Naked & Check Yourself.
Go Naked & Check Yourself is a cancer prevention and detection campaign, started by Red Bank business owners Chris Paseka of Sugarush and Angie Courtney of Sweetest Sin Boutique, that encourages people to learn how to check their bodies to discover or prevent detectible cancers, such as skin, breast and testicular.
In it’s third year, the campaign’s signature event – an evening of socializing, information and giveaways – will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24, at red Restaurant and Lounge, 3 Broad St.
The idea for the campaign to get people over the embarrassment of checking themselves came about when Paseka and Courtney decided to create a joint venture that could benefit the people of the area and forge a sense of community among Red Bank businesses.
“We tried to figure out what we could do” and found they had a common cause to fight for, Paseka says. “My mom is a cancer survivor and my dad is going through (cancer) treatments now and Angie’s best friend has been affected,” as well as others.
“Skin, breast and testicular cancers are the types that you need to go naked and catch yourself,” says Paseka. “Cancers that you can catch (by checking) yourself have a ridiculous rate of survival. But there’s a stigma about talking about women’s breasts and men’s testicles. People don’t want to think about checking between their toes (for skin cancer).”
The Go Naked theme was adopted by the event founders because Sweetest Sin Boutique offers lingerie, which women put on when undressed, “and (at Sugarush) we have the ‘Naked Cupcake,’ where we dress them for you the way you want to eat them,” Paseka says.
Although no one is getting naked at the Go Naked event, guests will be outfitted with information on self-detection and, hopefully, be inspired to make checkups a regular part of their lives.
Paseka hopes getting information, listening to cancer survivors tell their stories and talking about early detection will take the embarrassment out of self-checks. “If we save one life in three years or prevent radiation or chemo for one person, we’ll be happy.”
Sunday’s event at red will feature complimentary champagne, appetizers and cupcakes as well as gift bags. In addition, raffles, prizes and auctions will help raise funds.
Speakers will include cancer survivors DonnaLynn Geigerich, and Lisa Frank of Young Survivor Coalition. This year all proceeds from the event will go to Young Survivor Coalition and Cancer Support Community North Jersey Shore.
In addition to the generosity of red, which is hosting the event, Paseka says he was thrilled by how many people have wanted to be involved. More than 80 businesses, including The Two River Times™, are helping to sponsor the event or have donated auction or raffle prizes or items for gift bags.
“It’s an amazing event for us,” he says. “We raised $20,000 in the last two years for local cancer charities.”
The timing of Go Naked & Check Yourself also promotes small businesses. Guests will receive coupons and ads inviting them back for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday shopping on Nov. 29 and 30. “We want them to come back to town next week and support the town,” says Paseka.
Tickets, $40 in advance or $50 at the door, are available from Sugarush at 37 E. Front St. or by calling 732-414-9044, or at Sweetest Sin Boutique, 11 White St., which can be reached at 732-747-3550.