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The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) has launched its annual breast cancer awareness campaign to remind women that mammograms can be a lifesaver and to urge women 40 and over to schedule a mammogram every one to two years.
HHC chooses May in honor of Mother’s Day to remind all women that prevention, screening and early detection are the best defense against breast cancer. Breast cancer education and screening events (same-day mammograms are not available at every location) will be held in every borough throughout the month at HHC’s 11 acute care hospitals and six diagnostic and treatment centers for members of the community. Manhattan residents can visit HHC’s website for a list of mammogram education and mammogram screening events.
“A lifesaver is designed to help us in a crisis to potentially save lives. For women, that lifesaver can often be a mammogram,” said HHC President Dr. Ram Raju. “This was the case for Virginia Lopez, a patient and staff member at HHC Gouverneur Health, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. Virginia was lucky to have her health crisis averted early due to her mammogram, and we are lucky to have her back with us.”
HHC hospitals and health centers performed more than 102,000 mammograms last year. Patients wanting to schedule a mammogram are encouraged to call 311 to identify the HHC facility most convenient to them, where confidential mammograms can be performed regardless of the patient’s ability to pay, or health insurance or immigration status.
This year’s breast cancer awareness campaign uses an image of a pink lifesaver to remind people that a mammogram helps women maintain good health. Women will be encouraged to take their photo with a large cutout of a pink lifesaver and post it to social media using the hashtag #HHCmammograms. HHC facilities will feature an “I Pledge” recognition wall for staff and patients to post pink ribbons with their pledge to schedule a mammogram.
Lopez, 56, a lead technician who performs mammograms on women every day, became complacent about her own health after a few years of regular mammograms. “I was too comfortable with the idea that if nothing happened to me for a few years, nothing will ever happen,” she said.
When she got her mammogram at Gouverneur Health after waiting three years, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Lopez was later treated with surgery and still takes preventive medication.
“A mammogram helped diagnose the disease, luckily in its early stages, making it easier to treat,” said Lopez.
“Women need to realize that when detected and treated in its earliest stage, the survival rate for breast cancer is 97 percent,” said Dr. Margaret Kemeny, director of the Queens Cancer Center, HHC Queens Hospital Center. “Preventative screenings such as mammograms for women over 40 [every one to two years] are important proactive steps women should take in the fight against this disease.”
HHC hospitals and health centers in Manhattan will host the following breast cancer screening and informational events throughout the month of May (mammograms are also available at HHC facilities year-round).