Mobile van helps battle against breast cancer
VACAVILLE — First, Jim Drury’s sister got breast cancer, then his wife’s sisters got breast cancer. So, within four months, three women in his family were battling the disease that takes millions of lives each year.
Drury was a salesman who sold oncology systems that help diagnose breast cancer. He saw firsthand the frustration that getting to a screening caused.
“For many women, getting in to get screened isn’t convenient, so they don’t do it,” Drury said.
He believed that women would get diagnosed early if they had a ready and available way to get to a machine. His solution was to bring it to them.
So he created a mobile van and a Merced-based business called Life Saving Images that can bring the diagnostics tools to the people.
The van was parked Sunday at the Vacaville Premium Outlets and opened its doors to any woman, even if they didn’t have insurance.
Life Saving Images has several partners, including Susan G. Komen of Northern and Central California, who came to help.
The test results are read by radiology experts from Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, and the results are mailed to the clients. The mammogram takes 15 minutes in the mobile van.
Life Saving Images has been asked to come to churches, businesses, malls and more.
“Every woman over 40 needs to have a mammogram,” said Kelly Mac Millan, executive director of Susan G. Komen of Northern and Central California. “If they can’t afford it, there is a program called Every Woman Counts, which will help pay for it.”
Solano County has one of the highest rates of death from breast cancer in California, according to Mac Millan. It’s a disturbing trend that many in the medical field are working to stop.
“Getting screened early saves lives,” Mac Millan said, “but many low-income, Hispanic and African-American women don’t get screened.”
Life Saving Images takes Medicare, Medi-Cal and most insurances. For those without insurance, a quick bit of paperwork and a person is covered for the mammogram.
Women should start doing self breast exams in their 20s, with a physical examination by their doctor each year thereafter. There has been some debate over when to start doing a mammogram.
“If you have a family history of breast cancer, you want to get screened early,” Mac Millan said.
There are several things that can help with an early diagnosis of breast cancer, and that means lives can be saved with treatment. Some of this information also applies to men, who get breast cancer less than females but they, too, can have early symptoms.
- Know your risk: Talk with family members to find out who has had cancer in your family, then talk to your doctor.
- Get screened: Talk with your doctor, get a mammogram and do self-exams at home.
- Know what is normal for you: Look at your breasts, be aware of any changes in shape, size, color, dimpling or puckering, itchy or scaly patches, nipple changes or a new pain in one spot.
- Make healthy lifestyle choices: Keep a healthy weight, exercise, limit alcohol, limit menopausal hormones and breastfeed your babies.
If you can’t afford to get a mammogram, call Susan G. Komen at 1-877-465-6636 for information on low-cost programs.
The van’s next stop will be in Rancho Cordova, from 2 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Chick Fil-A on Sunrise Boulevard.