From the community

Three County organizations join forces to mark World Cancer Day on February 4 by providing extra incentive for women to receive mammograms

Posted Jan. 27, 2014, at 6:42 p.m.

Having a mammogram at TAMC on Tuesday, February 4 pays in more ways than one as the hospital, in partnership with the Aroostook County Action Program (ACAP) and Daigle Oil Company, will give gas to mammogram recipients – more specifically, a CITGO gas card – in recognition of World Cancer Day.

Mammograms help to save lives and TAMC, ACAP and DOC think that World Cancer Day, a global event designed to raise the awareness of cancer, its prevention, detection and treatment, is a good day to stress the importance of having regular mammograms. 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 having mammograms 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 rating number three. In the United States in 2014, it is projected that there will be 120.9 women diagnosed with breast cancer out of every 100,000 – and 127 out of 100,000 in Maine. Of those, it is projected that 21 per 100,000 will die from breast cancer in both the U.S. and Maine. The best defense is to get screened, i.e., have a mammogram,” explained ACAP Resource Developer Kimberly Smith.

Each person receiving a mammogram at TAMC on February 4 will receive a $20 CITGO gas card, half of which ACAP will purchase with grant monies it received through its Healthy Aroostook program, and the other half of which comes in the form of matching funds courtesy of DOC.

“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 Community Education Specialist Jo-Ellen Kelley.

ACAP and TAMC have partnered on numerous community health-related events and education programs, but this is the first time the two organizations have come together for a World Cancer Day event. Bringing DOC on board as a third partner was a logical decision given that company’s outstanding reputation in the community 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 Dechene LeBoeuf, 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 fulfilling its mission of responding to emerging human needs,” said Smith. “Healthy Aroostook, a Healthy Maine Partnership and a program of ACAP, currently has a grant from the Maine Cancer Foundation with which to provide education and increased awareness around healthy lifestyles particularly 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 annual exams by a provider, monthly self-exams, a first screening mammogram by age 40 and follow-up mammograms every one to two years for women between the ages of 40 and 49 as well as yearly after age 50.

“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 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.

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