CITY OF DEARBORN, MI
Mayor Michael Guido

Dearborn Battles Breast Cancer by Promoting Educational Awareness Events

Under the leadership of Mayor Michael.A. Guido, the second year of the City of Dearborn’s breast cancer awareness program was again successful. As in the previous year, the mayor focused his campaign efforts upon promoting breast cancer awareness to the city’s senior citizens and Arab women residing in Dearborn.

Reaching Seniors in their Homes

During the months of March and April, the Dearborn Department of Health took its educational program "on the road" to .all five of the city’s senior citizen housing buildings. Because the risk of breast cancer increases as women age, it is imperative that these women have access to pertinent information to keep their breasts healthy.

Mayor Guido personally opened these .educational programs with a welcoming address followed by a short speech from .the director of the health department. The program then centered upon an informative .discussion led by a senior citizen breast .cancer survivor who volunteers for the Barbara Ann Karmanos Breast Cancer Institute. Approximately 500 women attended these lectures, all of which concluded with the distribution of reminder gifts and long-stem chocolate roses from the mayor.

Reaching Arab Women in their Community Health Center

A considerable amount of time during NBCAM was allocated to The ACCESS Center, which serves some of the health needs of the city’s large population of Arab residents. Since the Arabic culture promotes modesty among women, it was .necessary to employ a more discreet and objective technique to reach this group. .To highlight the importance of this health issue, Mayor Guido presented The ACCESS Center with a breast model – imbedded with five different sized lumps – mounted on an illuminated base. The equipment is used as a teaching aid so the women can actually touch and sense what the lumps would feel like during self-exams as well as see the lumps through the glow that shines up from the base. This model is used in a private setting to accommodate and remain sensitive to Arab customs and beliefs.

Reaching City Employees at Work

On September 21, the health department hosted two informational sessions aimed at female city employees ranging from ages 25 to 60 years. In response to the mayor’s urging, almost 200 women attended these two programs that were held in council chambers to emphasize the importance of the topic. Also, by using a room that accommodates large groups, employees could leave their work stations and interact with one another during these sessions. Individual gifts included the breast cancer awareness postage stamps, pink votive candles, and cosmetic bags to act as tangible and visual reminders of this intensive and very vital educational campaign.

Although Dearborn employees receive .their mammograms without charge through their employee benefits package, women who choose to be insured through a health maintenance organization (HMO) plan had not been able to take advantage of the city’s on-site mobile detection unit program. However, a waiver was negotiated with these health providers, and starting in December 1999 employees with HMO plans may receive their mammograms at city hall.

Mayor’s Personal Involvement .in NBCAM

In addition to his support of the educational programs, Mayor Guido again inspired the city’s women employees to participate in the Tell A Friend Tuesday event sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Accordingly, he encouraged them to telephone five friends during work hours to remind them to schedule their annual mammograms.

In order to bring the awareness message .to homebound women unable to participate in one of the community educational sessions, the mayor filmed a five-minute spot that was shown numerous times during the month of October via Dearborn’s cable channel,CDTV3. Turning also to the print media to get his message out, Mayor Guido wrote editorial columns on breast cancer awareness for both local newspapers as well as U.S. Mayor, the twice-monthly newspaper of the United States Conference of Mayors. Additionally, he issued a proclamation which designated October .15, 1999 as National Mammography Day .in Dearborn.

Impact

Through the use of community forums .and the media – electronic and traditional – Mayor Guido reached thousands of Dearborn women with lifesaving information about breast cancer awareness. He has diligently conducted a public information saturation campaign to bring the following message to the women of Dearborn: early detection and treatment in combination with mammography and self-examination are the keys to lessening the deadly effects of breast cancer.

Using the city’s accumulated data on breast cancer awareness, Mayor Guido and the Dearborn Health Department also assisted the neighboring City of Inkster in its 1999 NBCAM observation. Inkster Mayor Bivens was given a list of breast cancer survivors who will speak at awareness events, contact persons from various national cancer organizations, and samples of Dearborn’s reminder gifts. In providing this information, the City of Dearborn was able to assist Mayor Bivens in reaching Inkster’s large priority population with the lifesaving breast cancer awareness message..Services, Follow-Up .and Treatment

The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute screens low-income women .for breast cancer through a grant from .the Michigan Department of Community Health, which receives support from .the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide mammography .for underserved women. Depending upon their income level, these women may qualify to be part of the Breast and Cervical Control Program. If they are over the age of 40, the cost of the mammogram is 20 percent of their income. If they have no income, the service is free. When a mammogram reveals a suspicious condition, .the Karmanos Cancer Institute assists with finding follow-up and, if necessary, treatment for the woman in question.

Dearborn is making progress, but some women who have had breast problems detected through the city’s awareness campaign are still reluctant to speak out on this important public health concern. The .privacy of all diagnosed women is totally respected, but this can be a serious detriment in estimating how many cases of breast cancer have been detected and treated during Mayor Guido’s intensive community awareness drive. Just as important, if this communication barrier can be broken down, more women will be able to hear "real" Dearborn neighbors relate their .personal stories, which will make this .topic more approachable and less fearful.

For more information, please contact:

Joan Gumkowski
Director, Dearborn Department of Health
telephone: 313/943-3082