CITY OF DEARBORN, MI
Mayor Michael A. Guido

Mayor Brings Awareness to City Employees and Community, Serving as State Model

In June 1998, Mayor Michael Guido launched Dearborn. s campaign to increase breast health awareness. The campaign has proved so successful that the Michigan Department of Community Health is using Mayor Guido. s approach as a model for other mayors in the state.

City Employees

Starting first with city employees, the mayor scheduled an event that more than 100 women attended - - a one-hour lecture and discussion on June 1 at City Hall conducted by a breast cancer survivor. Post-session evaluations revealed that many women in attendance were unaware of important new facts presented during the lecture. Accordingly, several participants said they intended to use the gifts distributed at the event (a pink rose, reminder calendar stickers, and pink lapel pins and pens with the ribbon symbol) as regular reminders to pursue monthly self-exams and annual mammograms.

In support of the lecture, Mayor Guido hosted the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute Mobile Mammography Unit at City Hall on June 8. All of the available 20 appointment slots were quickly filled and yielded fast results. Tests performed on two women, ages 40 and 27, indicated that they needed follow-up consultation and care.

The success of the initiative for city employees was the result of three combined factors:

  • exposure to new and useful information;
  • the mayor. s policy of allowing employees to take time off from work duties for the examination; and
  • the mobile mammography unit. s visit;

These sequential factors raised awareness levels and motivated the personal commitments to preventive measures. Given the success of the June 1 lecture, another session was held in September for those employees who were unable to attend the first awareness event. On this occasion, the American Cancer Society (ACS) collaborated with the city on the program entitled "Tell-A-Friend-Tuesday." This phrase refers to October 6, the day set aside for each participating woman to encourage five friends over forty to get mammograms. All but one of the city employees attending this session indicated that they would join this ACS initiative.

Outreach to Seniors

Special efforts are also being directed toward underserved women in Dearborn, especially seniors. There are a variety of factors that influence the low rate of preventive breast cancer screenings among older women. Many lack access to health care due to transportation difficulties or financial problems. Medicare does not cover screening mammograms, and many senior women cannot afford supplemental insurance. Also, many of this generation have been conditioned to believe that discussion of the breast is taboo. Thus, too many women know too little about their breasts and the threat of breast cancer.

To combat this lack of knowledge a complete program of formal education and mammogram screening was offered during October 1998 at the city. s five senior citizens apartment buildings and the Senior Center. Those in attendance were told that they were at special risk because one in every eight American women will develop breast cancer by the time they reach age 85, and the majority of those affected will be older. In fact, women 65 and older are twice as likely to develop breast cancer as younger women. However, the program takes a positive approach, emphasizing that early detection provides much greater opportunity for successful treatment.

Outreach to Priority Populations

Outreach efforts are also being directed toward women who are members of priority populations. These women also face some of the same barriers to breast health promotion as the seniors, but many more cultural and linguistic factors come into play. The mayor. s campaign is providing awareness education to priority population women within their neighborhoods and in their languages, if necessary, again stressing the importance of early detection. The women are also given advance notice of the schedule for neighborhood screening, which is provided through the Karmanos Cancer Institute. s Mobile Mammography Unit. Clients without health insurance receive their mammograms on a sliding cost scale.

The Community At-Large

While much has already been done, the mayor intends to expand his campaign to the entire community. Future plans include annual programs for all Dearborn women to increase their awareness of breast health. An evening television discussion on breast cancer awareness will be aired in April, and viewers will have the opportunity to call in with questions. Those women who have no transportation or who work outside the home during the day will thus have access to the same information presented to others during on-site programs. Given the high potential for cure of breast cancer if detected early, the mayor is committed to bringing this lifesaving information to the women of Dearborn.

Contact: Joan Gumkowski, Director, City of Dearborn Department of Health, 313/943-2090.

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