How COVID-19 is impacting breast cancer awareness month

NOW: How COVID-19 is impacting breast cancer awareness month

SOUTH BEND, IN - It’s no secret that October is breast cancer awareness month. However, due to COVID-19, organizations have had to rethink their plans for outreach.

St. Joseph Health System’s annual Secret Sister’s Society style show went virtual this year. While the foundation was able to live stream, the fundraising was impacted.

“While we raised funds that we were looking to raise - the dollar amount was not there because of the impact it has had on businesses that they maybe just don't have the money to sponsor,” said the Director of St. Joseph’s Health System the Foundation, Eileen Toney.  

According to Toney, it is not only the funding that is struggling, but the awareness too.

“Even though we are going through a pandemic, women still need to have their annual mammogram. They should not put that off,” said Toney.

The St. Joseph Regional Medical Center saw a downward spiral in mammograms during the stay at home order back in March. Now, they are on an upward trend that they hope will continue.

St. Joseph Health System

“Early detection is key for a mammogram so it’s one exam once a year and you’d only be here twenty, thirty minutes,” said Camilla Shaw, Manager of Paqui and Brian Kelly Comprehensive Breast Center. “I feel it’s a very safe environment and certainly our health is a priority.”  

The American Cancer Society has seen an 87% decrease in the number of screening mammograms this year.

“So, what that translates in to is the potential for about 36,000 delayed diagnoses of breast cancer,” said Rachael King, American Cancer Society Senior Director for Strategic Partnerships. “As women we need to make sure that we're taking care of our - our good health, getting in to get a mammogram, seeing our doctors and paying attention to our bodies."

The St. Joseph Regional Medical Center also offers a mobile medical unit for women not wanting to enter the hospital—and tomorrow is national mammography day—so what better time to get it done? You can reach the unit at 574-335-4500 to schedule your screening or visit here for more information.

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