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Brain Tumor Foundation, Councilman Williams introduce free mobile MRI unit in NYC

KIMBERLEY BANJOKO Special to the AmNews | 7/13/2011, 4:47 p.m.

If you experiencing throbbing, frequent migraines day by day, you either need to take better care of your body or there might be a more serious issue at play-a brain tumor. Brain tumors are serious issues with serious consequences, and although hearing the words "brain cancer" can seem parallel to death row, rapid diagnosis can lead to rapid recovery.

In response to cries for health care reform and support, City Council Member Jumaane D. Williams of Brooklyn spent a sunny Father's Day introducing a mobile MRI unit at St. Jerome's Catholic Church. Partnered with the Brain Tumor Foundation, Williams gathered $15,000 in federal funds for the cause alongside funds garnered through fundraisers.

"We need every community in this city to have access to health care, and this is such an important resource for New Yorkers who otherwise would not be able to afford these screenings that can help save lives," said Williams. "I am glad to have participated and to have received my own free MRI."

The hour-long "Road to Early Detection" event boasted the benefits of medical health and early detection of the numerous brain diseases that can be fatal if left untreated, encouraging New Yorkers to be proactive and get tested. Williams began the movement in 2008 and has helped thousands of patients throughout the five boroughs detect brain tumors and degenerative diseases and abnormalities like aneurysms, MS and Alzheimer's.

"It was very easy to use, to get to, and it took 5 minutes," said Joan Johnson, 57, one of the first patients to use the unit during the event. "I'm a senior citizen and a retired teacher, so I'm very concerned about my brain. This hospital on wheels for the community is extremely wonderful."

The event was open to the public and attracted many, most of whom curiously stopped by and signed up to receive the service, a real Father's Day treat. Typically, the test can cost over $1,000 for those without health insurance-with this new technology, patients can be at ease while undergoing the nerve-wracking procedure and awaiting their results, which are sent directly to the patient's primary care provider.

Several units will be traveling across the five boroughs for the next few weeks, open to any New York City resident free of charge. If you are experiencing headaches that are worst in the morning, nausea or vomiting, changes in speech, vision or hearing, having problems balancing or walking, experiencing changes in mood, personality or ability to concentrate, having problems with memory or feeling numbness or tingling in the arms or legs, you should be checked out.

To register for an exam and find out where the unit are stationed, visit the Brain Tumor Foundation at www.roadtoearlydetection.org.