October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and during this month, increasing awareness is most important.
All throughout the year, different health awareness campaigns take place. They allow individuals with certain health conditions - along with their loved ones, advocacy groups, and support groups - to join together around a common cause and offer support. During these times, educational and fundraising events are often held, bringing individuals together for a great cause.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In the United States, it is referred to as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month – a global health campaign organized every year in October by top breast cancer charities. The annual campaign offers information and support to all those touched by breast cancer by increasing awareness of the disease and raising funds for research into its diagnosis, cause, treatment, prevention, and cure.
In honor of breast cancer awareness month, the Hospitals of Providence in El Paso, Texas is offering discounted mammograms at its Imaging Center East and West locations all throughout October. “I think that part of the key is knowing your family history and knowing your body. If something is different or something has changed, there’s a great chance that it’s something benign, it’s not necessarily cancer, but you need to seek professional help with a physician to help you figure that out. Anytime there’s a change, you need to act on it” said Charlie Swopes, oncology nurse at the Hospitals of Providence.
Moving health forward
A mammogram offered at the Hospitals of Providence will be $60 and various events will take place to make preventative care more convenient and comforting. One particular event that took place on October 5th, “Mammos until Midnight”, offered mammograms until 00:00 in order to make them accessible to as many women as possible. Another event that took place on October 13th, “Lattes & Ladies” offered treats along with the mammograms.
In terms of when women should consider getting a mammogram and how often, Swope stated that “with a good discussion with your physician, you get them from 40 to 44 annually. But the recommended guideline is from 44 to 65 you get them every year and after that, if everything is ok, you can get them every two years. But that being said, at 40 you can start annually if you have some kind of risk factor, you have a family history, something is just going on.” After a breast cancer diagnosis, the team of experienced breast health physicians, nurses, and other specialists at the Hospitals of Providence can offer the most appropriate treatment(s), such as advanced oncology treatment, at one of their in-network facilities.
On Friday, October 26th at 7:00am, the 10th annual walk in the fight against breast cancer will take place at the Hospitals of Providence East Campus, located at 3280 Joe Battle Blvd. The walk celebrates breast cancer survivors, cheers on those who are still fighting, and honors the individuals who have lost their lives to the disease. “This walk is a great opportunity to bring much needed attention to the importance of Early Detection as the Best Prevention to breast cancer. We invite everyone to come out and support the brave individuals battling this disease” said Nicholas Tejeda, CEO of East Campus.
“Don’t be a Chump! Check for a Lump!”
For women who have low income or who are uninsured, finding funding through various foundations is an option. “With diagnostic mammograms, there are foundations out there and funding that can help. If you reach one of our staff of navigators at the Hospitals of Providence, we can help direct you to some of that funding from the Foundations that are out there to help with people that need diagnostics, even biopsies” said Swope.
Fortunately, there are options available for women who are unable to afford mammograms or who are uninsured and they include:
- The Breast Health Navigation Program - The Hospitals of Providence has a program that aids women throughout their journey with breast cancer. A personal breast health navigator helps to guide you from the time of your diagnosis and all throughout your treatment. They provide you and your loved ones with pre-op educational sessions, along with a survivor education packet uniquely designed for your individual needs.
- National Breast & Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have a program to provide low-income, uninsured, and underserved women with access to screening and diagnostic services for timely breast and cervical cancer. This program is funded for all of the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, the five U.S. territories, as well as 12 American Indian/Alaska Native tribal organizations.
- FDA-Certified Mammography Facilities – The United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) does annual inspections at health facilities that offer mammograms. They monitor the machines and all the staff that are associated with their mammography program. In order to find an FDA-certified mammography facility near you, you can easily search by - name of the facility, city, state, and zip code. Once you have found one, you can call and ask about their low-cost and free mammogram offerings.
- Local support organizations – There are numerous cancer support organizations across the country that offer financial assistance for mammograms or even offer access to free mammograms. Consider checking with these organizations for help: American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen Foundation Affiliates, American Breast Cancer Foundation, and Breast Cancer Network of Strength.
Thanks to the latest diagnostic techniques and treatments, the survival rates of breast cancer are better than ever before. Still, there are some women who choose to take matters into their own hands with painkillers because they fear the pain and discomfort of undergoing a mammogram. A number of factors affect whether a mammogram hurts, including breast structure, expertise of the technician, and overall anxiety about the mammogram. And although it can be a little frightening, discomfort is minimal for a majority of women.
A mammogram can show changes in the breast up to two years before you or your physician can feel them. Moreover, it can prevent the need for prolonged treatment for advanced cancers and heighten the chances of breast conservation. When it comes to enduring 10 minutes of discomfort versus a cancer diagnosis, the decision can your life.