“A mammogram saved my life,” said Jane Ambrose from Port Coquitlam.
Ambrose, 52, said she was not afraid when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003.
“It was a little disconcerting but I kept telling myself I was going to be fine,” she said.
Ambrose was scheduled for a lumpectomy when she was hit with a second dose of bad news: The cancer had spread to three different places and her breast would have to be removed.
“That was the worst part — losing my entire breast,” she said.
“But they told me about reconstruction and that really alleviated my fears.”
Ambrose’s fears are among some of the common reasons why Canadian women do not have regular mammograms, according to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation in B.C., which has launched its third year of the GOHAVE1 Campaign. The aim of GOHAVE1 is to get women to go for their first mammography screening.
The World Health Organization reported that if 70 per cent of women over 40 went for yearly mammograms, breast cancer deaths could be reduced by one third.
The GOHAVE1 Campaign is aiming for that 70 per cent, and two years into it organizers have seen a 46 per cent increase — that’s 22,401 women in B.C.
“This year’s ‘Under the Bed’ campaign addresses one of the major reasons women don’t go for mammograms: Fear. Fear that it hurts, fear of the procedure, and ultimately, fear that the mammogram might find something,” said Gillian Behnke, manager of marketing and communications for GOHAVE1.
“This last fear is most dangerous,” said Behnke.
Women who go for one screening are likely to return, increasing the early detection rate of breast cancer.
Now that Ambrose is cancer-free, she is taking the campaign a step further by encouraging women to go together to their mammogram screenings.
“Women are so supportive of each other,” she said. “It alleviates the stress of the situation and makes us accountable.”
The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation recommends women over 40 to have a mammogram once a year. It is a free procedure that only takes a few minutes and doesn’t require a doctor’s referral.
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- For more information, visit www.gohave1.com or call 1-888-GOHAVE1 (1-888-464-2831).