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June 20, 2001 -- No. 303
Martin County women explain importance of mammogram on upcoming TV show
By AMY PHILBECK
UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
CHAPEL HILL -- Statistics indicate that even though white women are more often diagnosed with breast cancer, black women are dying from the disease at higher rates than any other racial or ethnic group.
"A Celebration of Life: Rising Above Breast Cancer," which will air on WUNC-TV at 10 p.m. June 26, will examine this disturbing fact about the prevalence of breast cancer death among black women. Several black women in Martin County are helping others learn the importance of having a yearly mammogram by appearing on this nationally produced television special.
Lay health advisers and others involved in the five-county North Carolina Breast Cancer Screening Program, a project of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, are interviewed for the show. Participating counties include Beaufort, Bertie, Martin, Tyrrell and Washington.
"Everybody who wants a mammogram should have one, regardless of race or economic status," said Doris Whitehead, one of the Martin County women who participated in the program. "Even if they don’t have a car, there should be a way for them to get a mammogram. We want there to be no excuse for not going."
Other lay health advisers in Martin County, Nellie Council and Gladys Duggins, and community outreach specialist Eva Butler Hill and her mother, Annie Solis, will appear in the program as well.
According to experts interviewed for the upcoming program, black women are not generally diagnosed with breast cancer as early as white women because they are less likely to have a mammogram. The show, hosted by singer Nancy Wilson, attributes this to fear, lack of access to health care and racial and economic bias.
Whitehead said of the monthly lay health meeting for breast cancer survivors and other women in the community, "It’s a catching thing. If one person is upset, we’re all going to try to cheer her up."
She added that if the lay health advisors offer themselves as examples – talking about when they’ve had a mammogram – more women are open to the idea of mammogram tests
"We celebrate people who have survived," Whitehead said. "That way other women will see the importance of having a mammogram so they will survive too."
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UNC News Services contact: Deb Saine at (919) 962-8415