Katelyn Chostner, Editor-in-Chief

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. In light of Breast Cancer Awareness month, Missouri Baptist Medical Center has paired with the University of Missouri–St. Louis to bring women on campus and the surrounding areas mobile mammograms Oct. 23.

The Missouri Baptist Medical Center’s Mobile Mammography van gives women access to early detection of breast cancer. Those who are unable to travel to medical clinics are brought mobile early-detection exams. The van also helps women who do not have health insurance to cover the exam. The van operates with a grant program from the state of Missouri that helps women with low incomes get a free exam.

Mammographer Sherry Cotter has been a technologist since 2002. She talked about the importance of women getting a yearly exam and how they should not be denied the right to a mammogram depending on their financial status. The grant program follows a woman’s journey even after their visit.

“[The grant] follows them through the whole process. So, say they had a mammogram in our van and we see an abnormality and we need to do extra pictures, then that’s still covered under the grant,” said Cotter. “They don’t need to be worried that they’re not going to be able to be able to pay for that.”

Mobile Mammography only offers a screening exam, but the main medical center gives diagnostic mammograms. Even so, the van has helped many women detect breast cancer. Most of the women who had their breast cancer detected are recipients of the grant which helped them get further testing.

The van travels all over Missouri. According to Cotter, “We serve 110 sites across the state of Missouri annually and we serve 30 counties across Missouri. That’s including St. Louis and St. Louis county. We image over 3,500 women on the van annually.”

Getting a mammogram and doing monthly self-examinations are two simple ways for women to watch for breast cancer signs. Women over the age of 40 years should get an exam every one to two years. Women under the age of 40 who have breast cancer risk factors should consult their doctors to see if they should consider yearly mammograms.

Cotter talked about her close experience with breast cancer. Her mother had passed of breast cancer after she had found a lump in her breast. Cotter’s mother did not do her yearly exams and Cotter asked herself, “What if she would’ve went in for her yearly?”

Cotter explained the importance of getting a yearly exam, “My little lingo I use is that we get our car serviced every year, we gotta keep it maintained. Same way with our bodies. We only have one body, we can’t trade it in for a newer model … We have to keep it maintained.”

She also mentions that women who do a yearly exam should reward themselves by doing something they enjoy. That way each year women will have something to look forward to after the exam which can be quite painful. Bittersweet reward for a great cause.

Women who are interested in the grant program should contact Grant/Outreach Coordinator Theresa Taylor at theresa.taylor@bjc.org or 314-996-7585.