October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month, and October 18th is National Mammography Day

43,300 women are lost each year — that’s one mother, sister, daughter or friend every 12 minutes 43,300 women are lost each year — that’s one mother, sister, daughter or friend every 12 minutes

How women feel about their breasts varies from culture to culture; between age groups, may be influenced by fashion statements of the day, or even breast size. Women have been worshipped or diminished because of their breasts. In our culture, we are often even embarrassed by breastfeeding mothers, while sexual objectification of women’s breasts is sometimes viewed as acceptable. Much of that is very external to the issue of the health and well-being of women as it relates to their breasts and breast cancer. However, feelings of self-esteem and how a woman views herself are often intricately interwoven in how she views her breasts.

Women are often concerned that if they are diagnosed with breast cancer that their mate will loose interest in them. There are worries about survival. However, the development of a healthy view of our breasts, just as with all parts of our body, requires that we view all of our body with loving care and concern for our overall well-being of body, mind and spirit. Making regular self-examinations, and mammograms a part of our breast health is vital and provides the opportunity for early detection.

In preparing this article, I talked with an African American community resident, Jewellean Jackson, who is a part of the Community Center of Excellence in Women’s Health Advisory Board and Community-based Research Committee. She shared with me the following:

“My first thought is that one of my maternal cousins died of breast cancer. She didn’t let anyone know that she had it. The way we found out is her daughter came to pick her up for work, had been sitting outside blowing the horn, and finally went inside only to find her mother inside pumping the blood from her breasts trying to get ready for work. She had been bandaging herself up everyday and just going on. Needless to say, it was too late for her. So when I found a lump in my breast, that image flashed back to me. For a moment I felt fear. I thought what if it is malignant? After talking with the doctor, she assured me that it wasn’t malignant, that it was a benign cyst and could be drained. But early detection was critical. This experience it was a reaffirmation for me to pass this wisdom on to my daughter and incorporate it into her overall health education.”

According to The Breast Cancer Site, each year, 182,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and 43,300 die from breast cancer. One woman in eight either has or will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. In addition, 1,600 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 400 will die this year.

They say that if detected early, the five-year survival rate exceeds 95 percent. Mammograms are among the best early detection methods, yet 13 million women in the U.S. are 40-years-old or older and have never had a mammogram.

The National Cancer Institute and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend that women in their forties and older have mammograms every one to two years. A complete early detection plan also includes monthly breast self-exams and clinical breast examinations by a trained medical professional.

Women are encouraged to establish a “Path to Health” that includes routine mammograms and cervical cancer testing. Contact the Community Center of Excellence at (612) 302-4790 or (612) 302-4791 to make an appointment to meet with a staff member to develop your path to health.

Pilot City Health Center offers mammograms through Minnesota Breast Cervical Cancer Control Program (MBCCCP). To find out if you are eligible for free screening, call Alean at 612-302-4600.
You are eligible for a FREE mammogram if…
You are age 40 or over &
You have no health insurance OR you have insurance with unmet deductibles OR your in

October 14, 2002
The Journal For Community News, Business and The Arts serving the African American community in Minneapolis-St.Paul. Available on news stands and online at

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