British Columbia

Mobile mammogram clinic travels through B.C. Interior

The BC Cancer Agency’s breast-screening clinic travels throughout the province, catching cancer earlier.

The BC Cancer Agency’s Mobile Mammography Service will be in Merritt from Jan. 23-27

Mobile mammography service performs about 10 percent of the total number of screening mammograms in BC (bccancer.bc.ca)

Women in small communities throughout B.C. will have another chance to get screened for breast cancer this winter.

A mobile mammography clinic run by the B.C. Cancer Agency is making its way through the province. It's currently in Merritt until Jan. 27.

Around one in nine Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, according to the agency. Deaths from the disease are said to have dropped 25 per cent among women who are screened on a regular basis.

Johnna Sparrow-Crawford is a breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed after visiting a mobile clinic in her community. (bccancer.bc.ca)

Johnna Sparrow-Crawford found out she had breast cancer after visiting a mobile mammography truck three years ago.

"I felt like the earth moved under my feet," the 53-year-old said. "You immediately feel like you're going to die. I was scared."

Johnna Sparrow-Crawford, who lives on the Musqueam reserve, said she's "beyond grateful" for the service.

"If I had not done what I did that day, I could be in a totally different situation today or maybe not even here."

Mobile service serves rural residents

Janette Sam, operations director of the agency's mobile mammography program, says she wants to get the word out that the service can save lives.

"It gives women the opportunity to get ahead of it, get on with their treatment of the cancer and then get back to living a normal, healthy life again," Sam says.

The Screening Mammography Program (SMP) provides free screening mammograms for eligible BC women ages 40 and up. (Eric Gaillard/Reuters)

Dr. Duncan Ross, who works at the Nicola Valley Medical Clinic in Merritt, agrees it's a great service.

Right now, Merritt residents have to travel to bigger centres like Kamloops, Kelowna or Vancouver to be screened.

Ross says he gives referrals for mammograms to patients every day, and hopes they will take advantage of the mobile service in town this week.

In total, three mobile clinics travel throughout the province. After undergoing upgrades last spring, all three use digital mammogram technology rather than analog.

With files from Daybreak Kamloops.

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