CITY OF STAMFORD, CT
Mayor Dannel P. Malloy

Mayor Tells Constituents: "It. s Best to Test"

The following account includes descriptions of outreach for both breast and prostate cancer awareness because Mayor Dannel P. Malloy decided to undertake a dual initiative to address these diseases.

In January 1998, Mayor Malloy formed a Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer Awareness Week Committee, with the goal of increasing awareness and screening for these diseases. Charged with developing activities for a week-long program, the committee - - comprised of residents and representatives of businesses, corporations, health and human services agencies, and city/board of education employees - - came up with the following events for the first week of June:

  • screenings at various locations
    throughout the city;
  • informational speakers at the Government Center;
  • a five-minute informational video;
  • a book event at Borders Books;
  • a week-long series of activities at both high schools;
  • a pledge drive by city/board of
    education employees; and
  • a kick-off at the Government Center.

The awareness week slogan "It. s Best to Test" was carried on flyers and posters that were distributed throughout the city. Informational displays were set up in Ferguson Library and Borders Books. Three advertisements were run in The Stamford Advocate and Greenwich Time, and 220 public service announcements were aired. It is estimated that the campaign generated over 850,000 media impressions.

Combining the Initiatives for Women and Men

The awareness week initiative is an extension of The Mayors. Campaign Against Breast Cancer, conducted by USCM. Mayor Malloy decided that since prostate cancer is of such critical concern to the male community, Stamford. s awareness week should include information and testing for this disease as well.

Stamford considers education and early detection as key to its effort to address breast and prostate cancer. In partnership with local businesses, corporations, and human service organizations, the awareness week initiative let the community know that, except for lung cancer, breast and prostate cancer are the most common forms of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. In the United States alone one in eight women will develop breast cancer and one in five men will develop prostate cancer. This translates, respectively, into 43,500 deaths for women and 39,200 fatalities for men. However, it was emphasized to the Stamford community that recent advances in detection of breast and prostate cancer and treatment give hope to cancer sufferers and their families. The community was also informed that the Connecticut Department of Health estimates that deaths from breast cancer could be reduced by more than 30 percent if women participated in mammography screening.

Taking the Pledge

Out of concern for city/board of education employees and to set an example to other employers, Mayor Malloy asked all 3,100 of these workers to sign cards pledging a breast or prostate cancer screening for themselves or a loved one, using their own personal physician or city resources.* Pledges were received from 150 employees, the majority of whom elected to be screened by their own physicians. To the best of Stamford. s knowledge, this was the first time that a city administration had undertaken a pledge campaign for cancer screening. As a representative of the Mayors. Campaign Against Breast Cancer remarked, "You can be sent information and read it and be aware of it, but when you have a pledge card, something to return, to commit yourself or a loved one, that is something more."

Local Support for Screening Costs

Screening was done in the senior center and the Stamford Hospital and included mammograms for 92 women, breast exams for 52 women, and Prostate Specific Antigen (P.S.A.) testing for 114 men. City employees were covered by their health insurance, and community funds supported mammograms and prostate exams for others who could not afford these services. As a result of the extensive publicity given to awareness week, local companies donated space and supplies, and many volunteers contributed time and expertise. In addition to the City of Stamford, other contributors were: Clairol, Fuji Medical Systems U.S.A., Stamford Hospital, Playtex Apparel, and Women. s Mobile Imaging/Home Operated Medical. Therefore, the city. s expenditures were minimal.

Results

Thus far, 16 percent of the 206 persons given mammograms and P.S.A. testing - -

20 men and 12 women - - have been called back for a second round of tests due to abnormal results from their first examinations. Mayor Malloy summed up the importance of awareness week by saying: "This is a very important initiative because it touches all our lives. We can probably all say that we know people who have fought these cancers. We need to take responsibility and make a commitment to have regular screenings so that cancers will be detected early enough to impact survival. This effort will help make cancer awareness part of the fabric of our community."

Contact: Jeanne Ormond, CSW, Director of SHAPE, Stamford Health Department, 203/977-4388.

*Fire Department employees receive prostate cancer screening as part of their annual physical examinations, so they were not included in this part of the pledge campaign.

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