NEWINGTON – As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz joined Hartford HealthCare at its Support Office in Newington to shed awareness and highlight the system’s Mobile Mammography.
In 2005, Hartford HealthCare created a community outreach Mobile Mammography as a part of its Breast Programs.
“In 2012 this coach was born, grew up in Ohio, and was brought here. We have digital mammography on board and we’ve been out in the community for the past 10 years with this coach,” said Karen Weingrod, administrative director of Hartford HealthCare Breast Program and a breast cancer survivor
Breast cancer has been part of Weingrod’s life since she was 21 years old, which was when her mother was diagnosed. About 20 years later she would be diagnosed with breast cancer as well.
“I was having regular mammograms, but I was also always checking myself, and two weeks before I was due for my annual mammogram, in the shower, I felt the lump and I knew right away that it had to be cancer,” she said. “I did find out within a week or two that it indeed was, and it was an aggressive cancer, so I knew that I would need significant treatment. I was treated at Hartford Hospital, and I count that as being one of the most incredible supportive experiences that I could’ve had, and my oncologist, who I think really brought me through this whole process and why I’m here today, Dr. Patricia Defusco, is my partner in the Breast Program. She is our medical director.”
Hartford Hospital’s mobile mammography coach will be in Newington at 181 Patricia Genova Drive bringing convenient, accessible breast screening. The mobile mammography program brings the highest level of screening to women who would otherwise not have access to mammography services, including those who may not have insurance.
“One of our goals at Hartford Hospital and Hartford HealthCare as we go around the state is to make services as accessible as possible for vulnerable populations for women who don’t have insurance, for women who don’t have the knowledge of how to access services, and who are intimidated at the thought of going to a radiology office or hospital for care,” Weingrod said. “We want to be out there offering screening mammograms and follow-up care if abnormalities are detected to those very vulnerable populations.”
Weingrod said many women in the workforce don’t have their regular mammograms and may feel they can’t take the time off work; they may have children or be doing elder care which makes it even harder to take care of their own needs.
“We want to be going to worksites and take care of working women in our communities,” Weingrod said.
“We worked really hard to build relationships in our community with different stakeholders, whether it’s at a church or park, we’re there,” said Dorely Roldan, community outreach coordinator, Mobile Mammography. “We want to catch the cancers early so we bring it out with the hopes that that person gets on the unit and we’re able to detect it at an earlier time.”
According to Bysiewicz there is a disparity in equity in access to healthcare in Connecticut and breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer related deaths among Hispanic women. Hartford HealthCare’s Mobile Mammography increases access to communities of color, she said.
“No matter what, get your mammogram. Hartford HealthCare is here to support you through whatever happens next and in most cases it’s fine, nothing happens, but if it should, we are definitely here to help you and that goes for our uninsured patients our insured patients everybody we can touch,” Weingrod said.
Also, according to Bysiewicz, it’s estimated that 286,00 women across the country will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer each year.
“Breast cancer is something that has touched many families. It has touched my family, my sister, my mother and two of my aunts have battled this very vicious disease. And I know that many other families have experienced this as well,” Bysiewicz said. “Many women sadly have deferred preventive and early detection options because of the pandemic.”
Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women besides skin cancers.
“Women living in the United States have a 12% or 1 in 8 lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. In the 1970’s that rate was 1 in 11 not 1 in 8,” Bysiewicz said.
Roughly 3,500 women in Connecticut will be diagnosed with breast cancer and female breast cancer is the leading cause of new cancers in the state, Bysiewicz also shared.
“The bad news is that the five year survival rate for Stage 4 breast cancer is 25%. The good news is when breast cancer is diagnosed early, the five year survival rate increases to 98.6%,” Bysiewicz said.
If you would like Mobile Mammography to come to your site, or you need an appointment, call 860-972-1141.