MURRAY – Breast care experts at Intermountain Medical Center are hoping a coin of hope will save the lives of Utah women.
Intermountain Medical Center’s Breast Care Center has launched a new initiative to encourage women to undergo routine mammography to detect breast cancer at its earliest and most treatable stage.
The new coin, Mary’s nickel, is to be passed along to women to encourage early detection, and to support women who’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer. Women are encouraged to register their coin at www.MarysNickel.org, schedule a mammogram, and then pass the coin to a family member, friend or neighbor toencourage her to do the same.
Only 63 percent of eligible women over 40 have had a mammogram in the last two years. And what is even more troublesome, Utah is near last place in screening compliance.
“Utah ranks among the lowest in the nation for women who are eligible to have a mammogram who don’t undergo routine screening,” said Brett Parkinson, MD, medical director of the Breast Care Center at Intermountain Medical Center. “The purpose of Mary’s Nickel is for it to become a conversation starter that women and men can use to encourage their mothers, sisters, aunts, or neighbors to schedule a mammogram.”
The silver and pink coin features Mary Nickles, KUTV anchor and cancer survivor, along with the words, “Share the Story of Courage.” Nickles was diagnosed with breast cancer late last year following a news story she did to show how easy it is for women to get a mammogram. Just before Christmas she had a lumpectomy and soon began radiation and chemotherapy. Today, Nickles is an advocate of mammography screening.
Nickles’ tumor was very small, probably too small for her to feel herself. Without the mammogram, her cancer likely wouldn’t have been detected until it was larger and more invasive.
“I know for a fact that mammography and early detection saved my life,” says Nickles. “We need to get this important message out to all women that mammography is simple, painless and is often the difference between life and death.”
Women should begin scheduling mammograms annually at age 40. Women with higher risk factors, such as a family history of a first-degree relative who had breast cancer, should begin annual screenings 10 years prior to the relative’s age at diagnosis.
Many women do not undergo screening mammography because they have no family history and believe they are not at risk of developing breast cancer. Of the 1,500 Utah women diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, 1,200 had no family history of the disease.
“The more women who follow the national guidelines for when they should start undergoing regular mammograms will have a better chance of catching breast cancer early and limiting its impact on the woman and her family,” said Dr. Parkinson. “Let’s consider Mary’s Nickel a currency of hope and invite everyone to encourage women to get regular mammograms.”
Intermountain Medical Center is tracking the voyage of the coins online via www.MarysNickel.org. To request a coin or to register your coin go to that website.