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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, July 15, 2024


Oct. 3, 2002 – Get squished, urges Debbie Ann Christopher, a health educator at the Breast and Cervical Cancer Unit located in the Health Department's Charles Harwood Complex in Christiansted.
Christopher is urging women to get their annual mammogram during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, celebrated every year in October.
A few moments of squishing against the mammogram machine can pay off in early detection, Christopher said, noting that the older a women is, the greater the risk.
According to the federal government's 4women Web site, which uses information from the American Cancer Society, about 80 percent of all breast cancers occur in women age 50 or over. Early detection is the key to surviving this disease. The site indicates that an estimated 39,600 women across the country will die of breast cancer in 2002.
The Breast and Cervical Cancer Unit has arranged for mammograms to be given in the evening on Tuesdays and Thursdays all during October at the Imaging Center in the Island Medical Center. Hours are 6 to 8:30 p.m. An appointment is required and can be made by calling 778-5305.
Christopher said there is a $10 registration fee, and the mammograms are half-priced at $75. She said the American Cancer Society is offering a similar program. No one could be reached at that organization for more information.
While encouraging women to have annual mammograms is vital, it also is crucial to raise money to help address breast cancer issues, advocates note. A half-dozen King's Alley merchants have launched a special effort with that goal in mind. Cindy Nelson, who owns Soul of Africa, spearheaded the move. "Both my parents died of cancer," she explained.
She and French Dressing jeans have an unusual promotion going that raises money for breast cancer work. If you try on a pair of the label's jeans at Soul of Africa, French Dressing will donate $1 to a mainland organization dealing with breast cancer. And Soul of Africa will match that with a $1 to the Health Department's Breast and Cervical Cancer Special Fund.
Five other King's Alley merchants — Coconut Vine, Patrick and Son, Caribbean Bracelet, Hotheads and White House/Black Market — are donating a portion of their proceeds during October to their favorite agency dealing with breast cancer.
The stores also have breast cancer informational material on hand, including a model breast with a palpable lump and one that would require a mammogram to detect in a real breast. Nelson said the hands-on model gives women and their mates the opportunity to find out what a real lump feels like.
Christopher said she plans to hold breast cancer awareness fairs at King's Alley on dates to be announced. She urged women to make an effort during October to find out about their family's health history. Knowing what caused a person's recent ancestors to die is an important factor in determining risk for many diseases, including cancer.
"There's a lot of people running around here with a lot of stuff, but cancer is talked about in hushed tones," Christopher said. She also urged women to get a pap test, since cervical cancer is also a big killer.
To help women who can't afford a mammogram, visit the Breast Cancer Site. This Web site raises money for mammograms through sponsorships from large corporations. Every time you click, they donate to the fund. This site also has lots of breast cancer information.

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