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Free Breast Cancer Screenings for Low-Income, Uninsured, Underinsured Communities

May 17, 2018

By Andrea Lopez-Villafaña

In an effort to provide breast cancer screenings to communities who do not have easy access to health services, Susan G. Komen San Diego along with Northgate Gonzalez Markets hosted a free mammogram event on Friday, May 11.

The event was one of several free mammogram events that will be held this year with the next one scheduled for May 18 at the Northgate Gonzalez Markets in Barrio Logan and June 8 at Petco Park.

Komen San Diego partners with Northgate Gonzalez Markets, San Ysidro Health, Community Health Imaging Centers and Every Woman Counts, to host the free mammogram events.

“We think early detection is very important and the majority of the communities that we target don’t have health insurance or their health insurance doesn’t cover the mammogram,” Karla Lopez, outreach and office coordinator with Komen San Diego, said.

Early in the morning, two days before Mother’s Day, several women waited outside the Northgate Gonzalez Markets in Otay Mesa for their turn to enter the San Ysidro Health mobiles where each woman receives a clinical breast exam.

From there, women enter the mobile mammogram bus and receive the free mammogram.

Maria Sanchez, program manager for mobile health services outreach with San Ysidro Health, said that providing the mammograms at a location where women shop makes patients feel safe and is less intimidating than visiting a clinic.

“They see that this is a relaxed atmosphere and there’s so many women here and everybody’s happy and greeting, so I think that’s what makes the women more likely to come and have their mammogram in an event such as this,” Sanchez said.

To qualify for the free mammogram, individuals must be low-income, uninsured, or underinsured, 40 years of age or older and have not received a mammogram in a year or are currently experiencing breast cancer symptoms.

According to Lopez, the lack of time, transportation, and money are some reasons why community members dismiss preventative care, however, when it comes to breast cancer, early detection is crucial.

This is true for women like Chantal Breyfogle, a two time breast cancer survivor who has dedicated her time to raising awareness to preventive care with Komen San Diego.

Breyfogle was first diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 42 when an annual mammogram showed she had an aggressive form of cancer.

Breyfogle recalls that she did not have a tumor or any family history of breast cancer that would lead her to believe that she was at risk.

Seven years later, after undergoing chemotherapy and surgeries during her first diagnosis, Breyfogle discovered a lump in her breast during a self exam and was diagnosed with an advanced form of cancer.

However, once again early detection and effective treatment saved her life, she said.

“That’s why I tell women, I understand life gets in the way, but in a lot of communities the women are the glue of the family,” Breyfogle said. “They don’t go because they take care of the kids, they work, they don’t have transportation, but they need to give themselves the gift of the mammogram and self exam.”

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