Pamela Randels knows she should have a mammogram every year after the age of 40. She is 51. Her last mammogram was more than ten years ago.
Pamela lives in southwest Detroit and she has been receiving mental health counseling at Southwest Solutions’ Waterman Outpatient Clinic since 2009. Pamela had suffered a nervous breakdown after a series of family tragedies. Her son, who has Down’s Syndrome, was being treated her leukemia. Her mother passed away, and then her husband died of brain cancer.
“I didn’t have time for own my health needs because I was too busy taking care of others,” said Pamela. “So I broke all of my mammogram appointments because it was inconvenient for me to get to the hospital and get it done.”
On Tuesday this week, Pamela received a mammogram in a state-of-the-art, mobile unit parked at the Waterman Clinic for two days. The motor coach is a new service provided by St. John Providence Health System and is called the Anthony L. Soave Family Mobile Mammography and Health Screen Center. It offers free or low-cost breast cancer screenings and other medical tests, and it primarily serves women in Detroit neighborhoods by traveling to community-based organizations, schools, churches, and other venues five days a week.
“This was a comfortable experience,” said Pamela after her examination. “I’m going to be nervous waiting for my results, but I would recommend this bus to any woman needing a mammogram.”
The National Cancer Institute estimates that one of every eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer at some time in her life. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death for women ages 35-50. Studies show women in Detroit are more likely to die from breast cancer because too many are diagnosed and treated at a later stage in the disease.
“Our hope is to save the lives of more low-income women through accessible preventative testing and financial assistance,” said Ebony Rivers, Mobile Mammography Marketing Specialist at St. John Hospital and Medical Center.
For the two days that the mobile mammogram unit was at the Waterman clinic, there were about 40 appointments available, and all were filled with clients served by the clinic.
“We want to connect our consumers with all the resources available in our community to help them live healthier lives,” said Graciela Villalobos, director of Southwest Solutions’ Adult Counseling Services. “The mobile mammography center is a valuable opportunity because many of our consumers are not getting their regular mammograms. Early detection of breast cancer is critical for effective treatment options and saving lives.”
The mobile unit is equipped with an advanced imaging technology that produces an incredibly detailed 3D image of the breast for more accurate diagnoses. Board-certified radiologists analyze the images. There are two private dressing rooms and a separate clinical exam room in the unit, which is staffed by all-female technicians and assistants.
Dotti Sharp, a Board member at Southwest Solutions, helped facilitate bringing the mobile unit to the Waterman clinic.