Madeline Abramson is often recognized as the wife of former Louisville mayor, and current Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky, Jerry Abramson. Or perhaps it’s another association as mother to her son, Sidney. She says she is honored to hold each of those positions, but they are not her only notable titles.
Born in Louisville, Mrs. Abramson said that she loves her home city and counts herself lucky to have been afforded opportunities to travel throughout the Bluegrass. She enjoys Owensboro very much and fondly recalls attending the opening of the RiverPark Center in 1992.
While visiting Owensboro recently, Mrs. Abramson discussed her passion for Kentucky families and for people.
For the past six years, Madeline Abramson has served as honorary chair for “Dress in Blue (DIB) Day,” the first Friday in March, to recognize the importance of colon cancer screening, awareness and education. She partners with the Kentucky Cancer Program to get the message to all Kentuckians.
When asked why she became a voice for the cause, she notes that after her own screening experience, she felt it important to discuss that screening can prevent colon cancer by finding polyps and removing them before they become cancer. Early detection can reduce cancer deaths by finding the disease in an early stage when treatments are most effective. Unfortunately, Kentucky has some of the highest cancer rates in the country, so screening is especially important for our residents.
Mrs. Abramson has traveled the state in her years as honorary chair for “DIB Day” and spoken to countless Kentuckians about colon cancer, while also hearing personal stories. She says she has seen some very unique ways communities spread the word about this disease. That includes the inflatable, giant colon, which was hosted in Owensboro at Towne Square Mall and sponsored by the Kentucky Cancer Program on March 15, 2014. She smiles, “It’s a great way to raise awareness.” During March — Colon Cancer Awareness Month — the big orange colon has toured across the state to schools, malls, museums, hospitals, and health fairs. The colon is also on exhibit each year at the Kentucky State Fair, where about 56,000 people walk through to learn about the benefits of screening, while also having the opportunity to receive a colon cancer screening kit. Mrs. Abramson says, “We are grateful to the support from the media to promote “Dress in Blue Day” through radio, television, newspapers, and magazines.” Owensboro media and community organizations have embraced the message of awareness each March.
Key messages for colon cancer awareness, as highlighted by Mrs. Abramson, are that colon cancer screening should start at age 50 and sooner if you are at risk, especially if there is family history. African Americans should start screening at age 45. Colon cancer screening is covered by health insurance, Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act. Those without insurance should contact their local health department. Governor Steve Beshear has allocated funding for the new Kentucky Colon Cancer Screening Program to get more Kentuckians screened.
“Cancer-Free Families for Kentucky” is one of the Kentucky Cancer Program’s campaigns endorsed by Mrs. Abramson and First Lady Jane Beshear. She says that colon cancer screening is an important part of “Cancer-Free Families for Kentucky” because of its preventive benefits. The program urges Kentuckians to take advantage of available cancer screenings like mammograms, colonoscopies, and pap smears, which can detect cancers in early stages for better treatment outcomes. It also promotes healthy lifestyle behaviors to prevent cancer, such as eating healthier, regular exercise, and avoiding tobacco use. Mrs. Abramson says, “The goal is to reduce the cancer burden in Kentucky now and for generations to come through education, outreach, and screening.” In perfect timing, the program supports the Lt. Governor’s new initiative, “Kentucky Health Now,” to bring partners together to address some of our state’s greatest health concerns.
When not acting as “DIB Day Chair,” Mrs. Abramson is also the Chairperson for the Kentucky Commission on Women, where she encourages women and girls to look at educational and employment opportunities in manufacturing, technology and team building. She has volunteered with the American Red Cross for 25 years, and is very excited to be a spokesperson for “55,000 Degrees,” whose goal is to increase educational attainment by 55,000 postsecondary degrees by 2020 in the greater Louisville area.
Keeping busy is not a hard task for Madeline Abramson, but her selfless nature makes it easy for people to keep her time occupied. She feels fortunate for the kindness people have shown to their family over the years and to have a network of support that lends itself for her to be a wife, mother, sister, friend and philanthropist, all at once. It’s not hard to see that she succeeds quite well at each of them.
Mrs. Abramson feels it is important to make good choices, to be involved in endeavors in which you believe, and to participate in activities you do not mind to read about on the front page of the paper. As you can see, her work, from colon cancer awareness to higher education, is certainly front-page-worthy for the right reasons.
Mrs. Abramson is a great example to Kentuckians that passion, education (health and postsecondary) and perseverance will take our state to the top…in more than just basketball.