Events with cheerful names like Glam Doll Strut and Pink Flamingo Flock are part of Broward Health’s month-long annual Mammopalooza initiative which has the serious purpose of educating women and their families, building a sense of community support, and encouraging women to take action by getting a mammogram during October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Last year Broward Health performed 4,200 mammograms during the month of October, and the goal is to surpass that this year, said Diana Guayara, marketing coordinator for Broward Health Coral Springs.
All five locations throughout the county are once again offering a special self-pay rate; this year, it is $115. Most forms of insurance are accepted, and walk-ins are welcome.
Additional events during the month will raise awareness and money. One main recipient is the Lisa Boccard Breast Cancer Fund, which serves uninsured and underinsured women by funding mammograms, ultrasounds, biopsies and other related care.
“The most important thing a woman needs to do is take charge of her own health,” said Lisa Boccard, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992 and still battles the disease.
Two fundraisers are running throughout the entire month. The Coconut Creek Brighton store has its Power for Pink campaign, during which the store is selling its signature bracelet with a portion of the proceeds going to the Boccard fund. The Pink Flamingo Flock is also up and running, so locals may purchase lawn flamingos at the Community Education Center at Broward Health Coral Springs in honor of those affected by breast cancer. The cost is $10 for one flamingo, which will be displayed in front of the hospital with the honoree’s name on it, or $15 for two (one for the display and one to take home to keep). All proceeds from the flamingos will go to the Boccard fund.
One-day events include the Glam Doll Strut on Oct. 17, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., on Southwest Second Street in Fort Lauderdale, where teams will walk the runway for a celebrity judging panel, and the Mad Hatter’s Tea on Oct. 20, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Coral Springs Museum of Art, where participants will wear decorated pink hats for a contest and may enjoy chair massages, raffles, refreshments and educational booths.
The positivity and sense of celebration at these gatherings helps those fighting the disease find the spirit of support, Boccard said. “People there may cry, but they’re crying with joy and about life,” she said. It’s also a joyous remembrance of those who have passed.
One important message that Broward Health is seeking to spread is the need for mammograms no matter a woman’s health history. Guayara said some have the misconception that breast cancer is only hereditary, and women often disregard the need for an exam because they don’t have a family history or other risk indicators.
“You’re not out of the woods just because it doesn’t run in your family,” she said. “We want to spread awareness of that.”
Boccard’s case is an example of this in that she was diagnosed at age 29 without having any family history of breast cancer or risk factors. Greater education and awareness now will help others, she said. “Mothers and daughters are talking about it early, and that puts them one step ahead of the game.”
Dr. Carol McKenzie, a Coral Springs OB-GYN, said that 80 percent of breast-cancer incidents have nothing to do with genetics, and that is why breast examinations and mammograms are so important.
“There are great strides in taking care of it and treating it, but only if it’s caught early,” McKenzie said. “And mammograms are one of many tools that will help you catch it early.”
Even so, there are those who don’t want to get a mammogram for fear of pain during the screening or fear of facing news they don’t want. “Fear is a big factor, and it’s amazing how people let it take over their sensible side,” said Boccard, who urges people to move past that.
“There’s no such thing as waiting, not with cancer,” she said. “Cancer loves to take over.”
McKenzie also said that women should not be afraid of having a mammogram, and that negative perceptions of the procedure are mistaken. “The machines are better now than they used to be,” she said. “They’ve made it very patient friendly. It’s not at all like the experience that people think it is.”
Boccard and others involved with Breast Cancer Awareness Month would like to see the education, support and action continue throughout the year.
“Let’s not stop it on Oct. 31,” Boccard said. “Breast cancer doesn’t happen in just one month. It happens every day.”
To schedule a mammogram, visit BrowardHealth.org/mammo.