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The importance of mammograms

From left: Sen. Tina Tartaglione, Michael Young, Dr. Jonathan Chernoff, Pat Halpin-Murphy and Sen. Kim Ward.

The Pennsylvania Breast Care Coalition and a prominent lawmaker who survived the disease are urging women to schedule a free mammogram at an upcoming event.

Pat Halpin-Murphy, who founded the PBCC in 1993, joined state Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward last week at a news conference at Fox Chase Cancer Center to offer details about the free offer.

Mammograms will be conducted on Friday, April 1, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 1331 E. Wyoming Ave., formerly Cancer Treatment Centers of America but soon to be a Temple University Health System women’s hospital.

The procedures will take place inside Fox Chase’s mobile screening unit, made possible by Flyers Charities.

All women who make an appointment and are screened will receive a gift bag that includes a $25 Walmart gift card, courtesy of the PBCC.

Halpin-Murphy and Ward appear in a radio and TV public service announcement to remind women that screenings are a necessity. They hope the PSA reaches the 60 percent of women who missed their mammograms during the pandemic.

Halpin-Murphy noted that when breast cancer is found at its earliest stage, the five-year survival rate is 99 percent.

“Don’t miss your mammogram,” she said.

Ward, of Westmoreland County, was diagnosed in December 2020 with an early stage of breast cancer by a “wonderful radiologist.” The test was delayed due to the coronavirus. She later had a double mastectomy.

Studies show that one in eight American women get breast cancer.

“That is an unbelievable statistic,” Ward said.

Mammograms are recommended annually for women once they turn 40. Ward said breast cancer can be a silent killer and urged women to not be afraid to schedule a mammogram.

Sen. Tina Tartaglione attended the news conference, and Halpin-Murphy thanked her for supporting all of the PBCC’s issues over the years. Tartaglione, who lost a sister to breast cancer, said she would like to see the state pass a law requiring coverage for breast cancer genetic testing.

Lawmakers came together in 2020 to pass a bill authored by Sen. Bob Mensch, whose wife later died of breast cancer, that would require insurance coverage for MRI tests and ultrasounds for women with dense breast tissue.

Ward said breast cancer is not a red or blue issue.

“It’s a pink issue.”

Michael Young, CEO of Temple University Health System, thanked Tartaglione for her support of health care workers and said one of his goals is to reduce the time between a mammogram and any necessary treatment.

Dr. Jonathan Chernoff, cancer center director, and Dr. Lisa Collazzo, assistant professor of clinical radiology at Fox Chase, also spoke at the event. Collazzo said breast cancer diagnoses are second only to skin cancer in the U.S.

“Mammography screening saves lives,” she said.

To schedule an appointment for a free mammogram on April 1, call 215-728-3554. ••

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