Kalamazoo, MI—Uninsured women in Southwest Michigan who need a
mammogram to screen for breast cancer can once again receive help through a popular
initiative known as Pink Saturdays. The 8th annual program, supported by nearly every hospital, radiology group and cancer center in the region, will provide free mammograms in the month of October. Appointments can be scheduled now by calling 1-800-873-0649 and there are 1,000 slots available on a first come, first serve basis. The project is funded in part by a grant from Susan G. Komen Southwest Michigan. To qualify for a free mammogram, a woman must be uninsured, between the ages of 40 to 64 and live in one of the following eight Southwest Michigan counties: Allegan, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, or Van Buren. In addition, she cannot have been diagnosed with breast cancer in the past three years and household income is subject specific guidelines. (Women who are 65 years or older automatically qualify for a mammogram through Medicare. Those who are not residents of the named counties may contact a statewide hotline, 800-922-MAMM, or call the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program at 800-CDC-INFO for assistance.)
The importance of early detection and treatment of breast cancer was a driving force behind the creation of Pink Saturdays, according to Joseph Mirro, MD, CEO/CMO of West Michigan Cancer Center. “Women diagnosed at an early stage have a much higher cure rate”, said Mirro. “According to the US Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics, only 36% of uninsured women age 40-64 get an annual screening mammogram compared to 74% of insured women in the same group”, he added.
Bunny LaDuke with Access Breast Cancer Screenings cites health insurance data from the US Census Bureau which shows that an estimated 15% of Michigan’s female population is uninsured. “That translates into more than 15,000 women in Southwest Michigan who are uninsured and eligible for a free screening mammogram”, added LaDuke.
Once again this year, Pink Saturdays is focused on increasing breast cancer screening rates among uninsured African American and Hispanic women. According to the US Census Bureau, nearly 20% of African Americans and 30% of Hispanics/Latinos are uninsured, compared to 15% of non-Hispanic whites. Also, while African American women are less likely than Caucasian women to get breast cancer, they are more likely to die from the disease than any other group, according to the CDC. Pink Saturdays is partnering with the Hispanic American Council of Kalamazoo as well as local churches to reach minority populations.
“Cancer has no color or ethnicity”, said Megan Smith, Mission Coordinator with Susan G. Komen. “We have a strong initiative to make sure all eligible women take an active role in breast health and have the opportunity for a free mammogram”, she added.
Partners in the Pink Saturday 2014 initiative include: Access Breast Cancer Screenings; Advanced Radiology Services PC—Kalamazoo Division; Allegan General Hospital; Berrien County Health Department; Borgess Health Park; Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital; Borgess Medical Center; Borgess-Pipp Hospital; Borgess Westside; Borgess at Woodbridge Hills; Bronson Advanced Radiology Services; Bronson Battle Creek; Bronson Center for Women; Bronson Diagnostics at Woodbridge; Bronson LakeView Hospital; Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services; Lakeland Center for Outpatient Services; Lakeland Regional Medical Center, St. Joseph; Lakeland Community Hospital, Niles; Lakeland Community Hospital, Watervliet; Lakeland HealthCare Marie Yeager Cancer Center; Mary Coleman Mammography; Oaklawn Hospital; Premier Radiology; Radiology Associates of Berrien County; Radiology Consultants PLC; South Haven Health System; Southwest Michigan Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program; Southwest Michigan Radiology; Sturgis Hospital; Summit Radiology PC; Susan G. Komen Southwest Michigan; Three Rivers Health; Western Michigan University School of Medicine (WMed) and West Michigan Cancer Center. The project was made possible through a community grant from the Southwest Michigan Affiliate of Susan G. Komen. For more information visit www.pinksaturdays.org on the web, on Facebook, or call 269-384-8624.
ABOUT PINK SATURDAYS
Pink Saturdays started with nine participating facilities in 2007. Today, West Michigan Cancer Center, Access Breast Cancer Screenings and the Southwest Michigan Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program (BCCCP) organize and implement the program with more than 30 other participating organizations. West Michigan Cancer Center serves as fiduciary for the program. Since its inception, Pink Saturdays has provided nearly 9,300 free screening mammograms. 40 women have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Their follow-up care and treatment was paid for through funding from BCCCP and Medicaid.