Buddy Check 25: Pink Partners spread beautiful message about mammograms

By WEEK Producer

November 7, 2012 Updated Nov 7, 2012 at 5:06 PM CDT

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -- When Barb Haab and Sandy Vail look at this picture, they see something beautiful. It's not just a flower. Look closer and you'll see the petals are images of a mammogram.

"Rather than thinking of mammograms as something negative and something that's going to hurt, this is really something -- it's a gift that I can give myself," said Vail.

These breast cancer survivors are part of the Pink Partners, a group of volunteers for the Community Cancer Center in Bloomington-Normal. They use imagery like the campaign "A Mammogram is a Beautiful Thing" to encourage area women to get screened.

"I think if we can get the message out of survivors that we know personally you can survive this disease, early detection is your best weapon," said Haab.

The cancer center's medical director says many women in McLean County are not taking the message to heart.

"It's really a matter of continuing to educate...women and their families," explained Dr. Woodhouse.

Mammography rates are slowly improving since the Pink Partners started sharing their breast health message. Still, screening among African American and Hispanic women over age 40 is very low around the Twin Cities.

"Among Caucasians, you have highest rate of use of mammograms," said Dr. Woodhouse.

In 2011, the screening rate among Caucasian women was 54%, 25% among African Americans and less than 10% among Hispanic women over age 40. That's unacceptable.

Pink Partners Haab and Vail want area residents to know resources are available to help uninsured and under-insured women afford screenings. So, no excuses: get screened, know what's normal for you, do your breast self-exam and make healthy choices. It's advice these survivors say truly can save lives.

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