By Emily Young, Public Health Educator, Cancer Services Program
In October the leaves are changing colors and signs of pumpkins are all around, but in my world, I see pink! The Onondaga County Health Department’s Cancer Services Program (CSP) is partnering with several local pumpkins patches and diners to raise awareness about the importance of women getting routine mammograms. Look for our pink pumpkins when you’re out and about this month!
Pink pumpkins are a colorful way to promote the importance of screening for breast cancer. We know that breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the US, no matter race or ethnicity. But there is good news! Breast cancer that is found early when it’s small and hasn’t spread is usually easier to treat and has better outcomes. A mammogram is the best test to detect breast cancer early.
Susan* woke up on an average Wednesday morning, and as she was getting into the shower she noticed a lump in her left breast. Susan felt panic. She had never had a mammogram and had been putting if off because she didn’t have health insurance to cover the cost. Finding a lump made her nervous enough, but now how would she be able to pay for a mammogram? Later that morning she was on the phone with her friend Meg* who gave her peace of mind—she could call the Onondaga County Cancer Services Program (CSP) for a FREE mammogram!
Susan was able to get a free mammogram at a location convenient to her home. Unfortunately her mammogram showed something abnormal. After additional testing, Susan ended up being diagnosed with breast cancer. The CSP was able to help Susan sign up for the Medicaid Cancer Treatment Program, which would cover the cost of her treatments. Susan was very thankful to her friend for telling her about the CSP and was so grateful for the peace of mind knowing she had help with her cancer screenings and treatment when she did not have the means to do so herself.
*Names changed for confidentiality purposes
When was the last time you had a mammogram? If you are 50 to 74 years old, you should have a screening mammogram every two years. Women ages 40 to 49 should talk with their healthcare provider about when they need to get a mammogram and how often. For women without health insurance, the CSP provides FREE mammograms at radiology sites located throughout the city and county. Uninsured women may call 435-3653 to register for their free mammogram. The CSP has demonstrated success at screening uninsured women for breast cancer and our clients truly appreciate our program’s services.