Aroostook County – Having a mammogram at TAMC on Wednesday, February 4 pays in more ways than one as the medical center, in partnership with the Aroostook County Action Program’s (ACAP) Healthy Aroostook project and Daigle Oil Company, mark World Cancer Day by providing CITGO gas cards to those who receive the breast health screening.
TAMC, ACAP/Healthy Aroostook and DOC are collaborating to stress the importance of having regular life-saving mammograms on World Cancer Day, a global event designed to raise awareness of cancer, its prevention, detection and treatment,. The significance of the day makes it the perfect opportunity to promote the idea of early detection and to bring local awareness to the importance of getting the screening as a crucial step in the fight against breast cancer.
“Early detection means early treatment and improving a woman’s chances of beating the disease. It may also mean more treatment options with a small cancer, and treatments at an earlier stage will most likely have fewer side effects,” said TAMC’s Lead Mammographer Lana McNamee, R.T.(R)(M).
Cancer is the number two cause of death in Americans, with breast cancer the third leading cause of cancer deaths. In the United States in 2015, it is projected that there will be 127 women diagnosed with breast cancer out of every 100,000. The number is the same in Maine. Of those, it is projected that 23 per 100,000 will die from breast cancer in both the U.S. and Maine.
Each person receiving a mammogram at TAMC on February 4 will receive a $20 CITGO gas card, half of which ACAP/Healthy Aroostook will purchase and the other half of which comes in the form of matching funds courtesy of DOC. A noontime event will feature a new “pink” ambulance, which was recently added to the Crown Emergency Care fleet.
“It is hoped that this event will help raise local awareness and increase the number of women getting mammograms and working on healthier lifestyles with the ultimate goal of reducing the cancer rate,” said ACAP/Healthy Aroostook Community Education Specialist Jo-Ellen Kelley.
ACAP/Healthy Aroostook and TAMC partner on numerous community health-related events and education programs. The two non-profit organizations partnered with DOC to mark World Cancer Day in a similar fashion for the first time last year. Bringing DOC on board as a partner was a logical decision given the company’s outstanding reputation throughout the northern Maine for supporting cancer efforts.
“As a ‘pink’ company promoting and advocating breast cancer awareness and education, many of our messages in the form of advertisements and public service announcements encourage women to get their mammograms; being asked to support ACAP, and ultimately the women receiving mammograms on World Cancer Day at TAMC, reinforces our efforts in promoting this great cause,” said Sonya DecheneLeBoeuf, marketing manager at Daigle Oil Company.
Breast cancer rates in the U.S. are among the highest in the world. Breast cancer accounts for 32 percent of all cancers in women and is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths after lung cancer in U.S. women. One of the strongest risk factors is older age. In Maine, 16.3 percent of the population is aged 65 and over. However, in Aroostook County, that figure jumps to 19.5 percent, with 50.7 percent of the population being female.
“This is an opportunity to raise local awareness on the importance of cancer screenings on a day set aside across the world to do so. This event is a perfect example of ACAP/Healthy Aroostook fulfilling its mission of responding to emerging human needs,” said Kelley. “Healthy Aroostook, a Healthy Maine Partnership and a program of ACAP, has funding to provide education and increased awareness around healthy lifestyles including women’s breast and cervical health and how it relates to cancers.”
The World Cancer Day event at TAMC will stress the importance of early detection, which increases the chances of a woman with breast cancer living an additional five years by 98 percent. There are several things a woman should do to increase the chances of early detection, including monthly self-exams and annual exams by a provider after age 40.
“Women need to check with their provider for guidance. If there is a strong family history of breast cancer, the mammogram should be at an earlier age. Generally women should start at the age of 40 and continue until the age of 74, and if in good health, continuing ten more years. The American Cancer Society and American College of Radiology have information sites on the internet,” said McNamee.
McNamee says she hopes the gas cards will help to offset the cost of traveling to the hospital, and therefore encourage those who may have put off the procedure to take advantage of the TAMC, ACAP/Healthy Aroostook and DOC World Cancer Day event.
“I hope this will give women the opportunity and resources necessary to obtain a mammogram and be proactive in their breast health care,” said McNamee. “It’s great to have community businesses support an important woman’s service. This may be just enough for a woman to get that mammogram they may have put off due to lack of travel funds. Women are the traditional caregivers, and they need to take care of their health so they can continue to care for their families.”
Women interested in scheduling a mammogram should talk to their provider, who will help them schedule an appointment.