Breast cancer screenings target most vulnerable

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July 11th, 2011

Omaha, NE – Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in the US. But black women are impacted by the disease at a disproportionately high rate. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists breast cancer as the number two killer of African American women. Here in Omaha, one community organization partnered with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services over the weekend, to help curb that trend.

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Pink and white balloons greeted people as they walked through the doors at Girls Inc.’s North Omaha building on Saturday. A group of women, some young and others young at heart, gathered in the gym to make hope key chains, and listen to breast cancer survivors share their stories.

A group of women gathered in the Girls Inc. gym to make hope key chains on Saturday. (Photo credit Girls Inc. of Omaha)

In high poverty areas like North Omaha, a lack of health education and access to affordable health care can stop people from taking advantage of preventative breast care services. Chanté Chambers is from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Health Disparities and Health Equity.

“People aren’t really aware of this issue at hand,” Chambers said, “and how it impacts not only the individual, but the community at large. If a mother‘s impacted, her daughter’s impacted, and her grandparent may be impacted, and so on down the line.”

Tracy, who only gave her first name, is a registered nurse. She said about 25 women received free breast cancer screenings at the event, which emphasized the importance of knowing your body.

“The key is to be consistent,” she said. “A lot of people don’t know the proper technique, so we teach them. You have the option of standing in the shower or lying down. It’s nice to have someone there to show them the right way.”

While one out of eight women of all races is affected by breast cancer at some point in her life, organizers said they plan to host more health education programs sometime in the near future, with a specific focus on women in North Omaha.

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