Nine area healthcare providers participated in the 2007 initiative. The 2008 goal was to partner with all 27 facilities in the region’s eight counties to provide 2,000 women with mammograms. The organizations behind Pink Saturdays are also looking into ways to provide diagnostic mammograms for women who already have breast cancer symptoms.
The Pink Saturdays committee credits volunteers — including many radiologists — for making the event possible. More than 100 volunteers donated approximately 2,000 hours in October to ensure the success of the Pink Saturdays program.
Impetus for the Collaboration The development of Pink Saturdays was motivated by the low percentage
of eligible women in southwest Michigan receiving annual mammograms and
the importance of early detection and treatment of breast cancer.
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second
leading cause of cancer-related deaths among U.S. women. There is
currently no cure for advanced breast cancer.
According to mammography
screening facilities that report their numbers, the estimated average
annual mammography rate in southwest Michigan is 30 percent,
significantly lower than both state and national averages. While a few
counties in the area have seen small increases in their mammography
rates since the local Komen Affiliate initiated its Mammograms Matter® campaign in 2006, almost all counties fall at or below 50 percent. The 2006 statistics show Allegan County at 18 percent, Berrien at 35 percent, Cass at 11 percent, Kalamazoo at 37 percent, and Van Buren County at 23 percent — five of the eight counties in southwest Michigan with the lowest mammography screening rates.
The Komen Affiliate wanted to expand upon its Mammograms Matter® campaign and support the limited BCCCP caseload by finding a way to serve more women in need. West Michigan Cancer Center was in a perfect position to enlist the support of both major hospitals in the Kalamazoo area that own and operate WMCC in a collaborative effort.
Results A total of 699 underinsured and uninsured women in Southwest Michigan received a screening mammogram during the month-long program.Follow-up diagnostic services were paid for all in need by either Komen or BCCCP funds.
Lessons Learned Each collaborating partner achieved more by working together. The success of the Pink Saturdays program has sparked an even loftier goal for the 2008 event — 2,000 free mammograms across eight counties.
They also recognized that a small percentage of women who had signed up and had access to a free mammogram cancelled at the last minute and did not reschedule. Therefore, they concluded that cost is not the only barrier for some women. Fear of getting a mammogram and also perhaps the results of the screening test itself still prevents some women from getting checked.
"Pink Saturdays” received the Michigan Cancer Consortium’s 2008 Spirit of Collaboration Award. The annual award is presented to member organizations that have done outstanding collaborative work to significantly move comprehensive cancer control activities forward in Michigan.