Mayor Raises Community Awareness By Launching a Breast Health Education Campaign
Detroit Mayor Dennis W. Archer is committed to winning the war against breast cancer and recognizes the first step is to promote early detection and treatment of this difficult disease. Too often women die needlessly because their breast cancer was not diagnosed early enough. Mayor Archer routinely stresses the importance of breast and cervical cancer screening to City of Detroit employees, residents, and members of the community.
For the past several years, Mayor Archer .has issued written proclamations declaring the month of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month and October 15 as National Mammography Day as ways to remind Detroit women and their families that regular checkups and monthly breast self-examinations are essential. According .to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mammography (a low-dose .x-ray) is the best way to detect breast .cancer in its early and most treatable stage – an average of 1.7 years before the woman .can actually feel the lump.
In an effort to make the process of .getting a mammogram easier for women throughout the metropolitan Detroit area, the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute (one of the leading cancer research, treatment and education centers in the United States) brings its mobile detection center to several health clinics in Southeastern Michigan, many of which are located in the City of Detroit. On October 19, a special promotional event was held at one of the Detroit Health Department’s largest clinics. All women who attended either registered for a mammogram or were screened on site.
Mayor Shows Support for Ongoing Effort
Under Mayor Archer’s leadership, .the thrust of Detroit’s Breast Cancer Awareness effort does not focus on screening alone, but emphasizes education as well. Because it is a well-documented fact that a disproportionate number of deaths occur among women of minority and low-income groups, employees at the Detroit Health Department reach out to those at risk. Women who come to any health .center in Detroit have access to life-saving information from both printed literature and well-informed staff members. Mayor Archer has also utilized television, radio, and print media to disseminate the message that early detection is a woman’s best .protection from cancer.
A breast health information booth was recently erected in the lobby of city hall and provides all citizens with the opportunity to pick up free brochures, bookmarks, ribbon pins, self-exam instructional shower cards and other give-away items. Mayor Archer sees the campaign to eradicate breast cancer as more than a month-long endeavor, but instead as a year-round on-going effort.
Due to Mayor Archer’s dedication to this issue, the seed that he planted several years ago with his initial campaign for awareness has now blossomed among City of Detroit employees. Working in conjunction with the Karmanos Cancer Institute, the City .of Detroit is sponsoring department-wide education and training sessions on breast and prostate cancer. The city is encouraging more than 20,000 city workers to take charge of their health by eating right, getting regular medical check-ups, not smoking, and staying active.
One of the most successful outreach efforts has involved raising awareness in the faith community. Detroit ministers have been recruited to host prayer breakfasts and after-church informational gatherings;.distribute literature and post notices about future meetings in local churches; publish announcements in religious newsletters; and hear survivors speak about their experiences during Sunday services. Often it is easier for people to discuss uncomfortable topics in a familiar and nurturing environment – such as a house of worship. This type of outreach effort is designed with two goals in mind: to educate women and motivate them to be screened (with the solid encouragement of family and friends).
In Detroit, women are also asked to become part of a "Tell-a-Friend" program. This program requires each participant to tell five of her friends about the importance of getting a mammogram and then reminding her to follow-up by making an appointment for the exam. Since it is critical that women over 40 receive clinical breast exams annually, friends might suggest to one another the idea of picking a day that is significant in their lives (birthday, anniversary, holiday) as a yearly reminder that it is time to make an appointment. Details about how to obtain information about screening and mammography can be located on the City of Detroit’s Web site under the health department icon (Internet address: www.ci.detroit.mi.us).
Eliminating Confusion—What Every Person Should Know About Breast Cancer
Mayor Archer underscores the need for universal understanding of the facts about breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women next to skin cancer. It is second only to lung cancer as the leading cause of female cancer death in White women, although it remains the number one cause of cancer death in African American women. (These
statistics are provided by the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute.) A common misconception about breast cancer is that .a woman who does not have a history of breast cancer is not at risk. In fact, 80 percent of breast cancer patients had no family history of the disease. The two most common risk factors for developing breast cancer are simply being a woman and growing older. Mayor Archer urges all citizens .in this nation to take charge of their health. For women, this means adhering to all three elements of breast cancer screening: monthly breast self-examinations, annual clinical breast exams by a health-care professional, and routine mammography.
For more information, please contact:
Laura L. Rodwan