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Guest Commentary / Fighting breast cancer

Mammograms, early detection saves lives

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By Mona Locke
Every week, more than 100 women in Washington state are diagnosed with breast cancer. The good news is, when caught early, a woman's five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 98 percent. This is why Komen Puget Sound is such a passionate advocate for regular mammograms. Yet, too often I hear stories of women diagnosed in the late stages of this disease, when the chances for survival are significantly less.
There are so many reasons for putting off a mammogram. Perhaps you think "I have plenty of time," or "it won't happen to me." But the simple fact is a mammogram can save your life. Another fact: when breast cancer hits, it affects your entire family. You are not just getting that mammogram for yourself, but also for your spouse, your children and everyone you love. For everyone's sake, take charge of your health, and get a mammogram. There's no time to lose.
At Komen Puget Sound, we bring this personal sense of urgency to the work we do every day, as we have for the past 20 years. Today, Komen Puget Sound is the single largest funder of free mammograms to low income and uninsured women. Luisa Lavalle was one of the more than 3,100 free mammograms provided by Komen Puget Sound last year. Even though she worked full-time, Luisa lacked the $900 a month she needed to pay for private health insurance. Encouraged by a friend, she attended a Komen funded free mammogram event in her community, where she was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. Here is what Luisa shared with us:
"My breast cancer was aggressive, and I know that if I had waited a few months more, the outcome would have been much different. Without Komen, I probably would not have had my mammogram in time. I know it saved my life."
I am proud of what we have accomplished for Luisa and thousands of women like her, yet I am even more mindful of all that still needs to be done. Too many of us have lost a wife, a sister, a mother, a daughter, or a friend to breast cancer. Please join our local fight against breast cancer. To learn more about Komen Puget Sound, visit us online at Together we can and will save lives in our community, and ultimately end breast cancer forever.

Mona Locke is the Interim Executive Director, Komen Puget Sound.

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