preventative care

We All Know It - But How Many of Us Do It?

THINK PINK! October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Unless a person is living under a rock, they cannot help but be made “aware” of breast cancer during the month of October.

Turn on the television and every Major League Baseball team is using pink bats, NFL players are adorned in pink gloves, towels, tights, and socks.

Attended a high school football game lately? The cheerleaders have big pink bows, pink bloomers and poms, while high school football players sport pink socks. Volleyball teams have followed the trend as well.

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) began in 1985 as a partnership between the American Caner Society and Imperial Chemical Industries, maker of several anti-breast cancer drugs. The aim of NBCAM was to promote mammography as the most effective weapon against breast cancer.

As for the pink ribbon, which is now a national symbol for breast cancer awareness, the Susan G. Komen Foundation handed out pink ribbons to participants in its New York City race for breast cancer survivors starting in 1991.

Then in 1993, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation was founded and officially established the pink ribbon as its symbol. The color pink, for literally everything in October, ensued from that.

So now that everyone is aware of NBCAM, how many people actually take action? How many people actually schedule a mammogram? I say people because men, although much less common, can also develop breast cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, the good news is that the number of women over 40 who have a mammogram has increased drastically since 1987.

In 1987, 29% of females over 40 had a mammogram and in 2013 this number increased to 66% - this of course equates to early detection, early treatment, and saving lives. According to the American Cancer Society, deaths from breast cancer are down 35% from 1989 to 2011.

We can conlcude that all this "pink" is working.

Seems like a no brainer. If having a mammogram could possible save your life, who in their right mind wouldn't get one? The American Cancer Society reports that 62% of uninsured women are not getting mammograms along with 47% of women with less that 12 years of education. Ethnicity is not a factor in whether or not women get a mammogram according to the American Cancer Society.

Still, there is no excuse. According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, low-cost or free mammograms are offered through national programs and community organizations throughout the country including:

  • Komen Affiliates fund breast cancer education, screening and treatment projects for those who need it most. Find an affiliate in your area to learn what resources are available. Or, call their breast care helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636) to help find low-cost options in your area.

  • National Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Center provides access to breast cancer screening to low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women.

  • YWCA provides breast cancer education and screening to women who lack access to health services.

  • Each October, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, many imaging centers offer mammograms at reduced rates. For a list of certified centers, visit the FDA website at

So if you are wearing pink…stop and think…have you had your annual mammogram?


Healthy Workers = Happy Workers

I am very blessed to work in an environment that embraces preventative measures to maintain optimal health. You might be surprised to know that I am a teacher - a high school teacher at that. Some might say my position alone is a health risk! Actually, it's not.

I teach for a district that offers ahealth screening every fall. The good news is this health screening is free. The even better news is that the district pays $100 to all staff members who choose to participate. The screening involves a complete blood profile and a mammogram.

The blood profile is done at our workplace. The lab actually comes to our school early in the morning to draw our blood, and the results are delivered to our school nurses and then given to us a few days later. The nurses at my campus are great at reviewing our results and red-flagging anything not in the normal range. They are equally good at answering our questions about our results.

The district also provides additional optional services like an osteoporosis screening, peripheral arterial disorder screening, abdominal aortic aneurysm screening, and carotid artery screening at a nearby hospital for a minimal cost.

The majority of staff members at my campus, myself included, take advantage of these great services. A simple blood test can detect abnormalities and possible serious conditions that require further testing and treatment. It's all about being proactive and taking preventative measures.