Think breast cancer.
Think this in October because it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Think Pink is an awareness program for breast cancer. Think Pink partners include the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby, Brainerd Lakes Health, Riverwood Healthcare Center in Aitkin and the Brainerd Dispatch.
To help in the fight against breast cancer, part of the Think Pink events will include the offering of free mammograms to women 40 or older in the Brainerd lakes area on three separate occasions in November.
The Dispatch and the Susan G. Komen Brainerd Lakes affiliate, for the second year in a row, secured the use of a mobile mammogram unit to provide free examinations to lakes area women. The services of a mobile mammogram vehicle, a $3 million technologically advanced unit, was donated by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. The mobile unit has a digital mammogram, meaning less compression is needed for a good image, which may make the procedure more comfortable. The digital mammogram also provides a good image for women who have dense breasts.
Christine Michael, mobile unit coordinator and mammographer with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, conducted free mammograms last year for the Brainerd Think Pink event and will do them again this year in the Brainerd lakes area. Brainerd Dispatch/File photo
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Christine Michael, mobile unit coordinator and mammographer with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, said the mobile mammogram unit was created in 2007 and was developed primarily for use on Indian reservations in Minnesota. Michael said use of the unit has increased and is now being used all over the state, including at events for the homeless and the American Cancer Society.
Michael said it is important for women 40 and older to have a mammogram done. Michael said if breast cancer is caught early it is treatable.
Michael will do the mammograms for the Think Pink mobile mammogram unit events that will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 11 at Paulbeck's County Market parking lot in Aitkin; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 12 at the CRMC Care Center; and from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday Nov. 13 in Brainerd at Mill's Body Work.
The mobile unit event last year was offered for one day in Baxter and 68 mammograms were done. Brainerd Lakes Health conducted an additional 50 free mammograms.
"Last year we did one every 15 minutes," said Kelly Simons, president of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Brainerd Lakes. "We didn't turn anyone away. There was a tremendous response and we had a lot of first-timers."
Simons said this year 30 women at each of the three sites will be able to get a free mammogram that are open to women age 40 or older and haven't had a mammogram in the past year. Brainerd Lakes Health will provide an additional 28 mammograms.
People must make an appointment to get a free mammogram during the Think Pink events by calling Riverwood at (218) 927-2121 for an appointment in Aitkin; CRMC at (218) 546-7000 for appointment in Crosby; and 828-7501 for an appointment in Brainerd.
At each of the mobile unit events, Michaels will be present along with an emergency medical technician and a nursing assistant to conduct the mammograms. Information on breast cancer will be available, as well as a chance to talk with survivors.
Simons said the free mammograms are for women without health insurance, who have a high deductible or who haven't had a mammogram for several years.
"Mammograms save lives," said Simons. "Last year we had a woman in her early 60s and it was her first mammogram. She was scared to have one done because she thought it'd hurt. She had it done and said it wasn't that bad. Mammograms are not painful like people think they are.
"Another lady who came in last year had an abnormality and she had breast cancer. The national statistics say that one in every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer."
Simons, 39, knows all too well about the statistics as she is a breast cancer survivor and has been for four and a half years. Simons went in for her annual exam and the doctor recommended that she have a mammogram done so it'd be on record to be compared to future mammograms. She ended up with breast cancer and went through chemotherapy, radiation and numerous surgeries.
"It's rare to be so young (to get breast cancer), but our lifestyles and environments are changing and younger women are getting diagnosed."
For women who do not get a mammogram with the Think Pink event, the Sage Minnesota's Cancer Screening Program is another option to have one done for free for women who qualify. To find out more about the program go to the Minnesota Department of Health's Web site at http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/hpcd/ccs/mbcccp.htm.
JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5851.
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