D.C. has the highest breast cancer mortality rate in the nation, but a new mobile mammography program seeks to change that.
Breast Care for Washington, a group that aims to provide screening and care to underserved D.C. populations, rolled out the MobileMammo program at an event Wednesday. It will provide 3D mammograms aboard a 45-foot bus.
“The mission of Breast Care for Washington is to provide access to breast cancer screening, access to treatment and access to diagnostic imaging to all women, regardless of their ability to pay,” co-founder Beth Beck said.
Six-month breast cancer survivor Erica Walls explained the necessity of such a program.
“Everyone doesn’t have the resources to have a private doctor,” she said at the MobileMammo ribbon cutting. “They’re bringing it to the community, and broadening and leveling the playing field for something that’s basically a human right — health care.”
Also at Wednesday’s ceremony was Susan G. Komen for the Cure founder Nancy Brinker. She talked about her sister, who inspired the movement.
“Forty years ago when she died, the one thing she asked of me was to cure breast cancer, but mostly to make sure that everyone had access to care,” Brinker said. “She said something that has stayed with me forever, which is, ‘Where a woman lives shouldn’t determine if she lives.'”
Ward 3 Council member Mary Cheh, chair of the D.C. Council’s Transportation Committee, presented the group’s founders with pink plates for the MobileMammo bus. The specialty license plates are available through the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles and cost $20, with proceeds benefiting D.C. Health.
“It’s extraordinary, and I’m just so delighted,” 10-year breast cancer survivor Cheh said of what the MobileMammo vehicle might be able to accomplish.
“We have so many women who come from the East End too late, or don’t get screened. And, when they are given a diagnosis, their mortality rate is so much higher,” she said.
Cheh, who also serves on the council’s Health Committee, added that they’ve been trying to address disparities in care across the District, “and one area that’s especially problematic has been breast cancer.”
Call (202) 465-7164, or visit the Breast Care for Washington website, to set up an appointment.