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Breast Cancer Workers Take Fight to the Streets

Community Health Care Workers and nurses are taking the breast cancer battle to the streets of southeast Wisconsin with mobile screening labs. (Pink awareness ribbon courtesy of ACS)
Community Health Care Workers and nurses are taking the breast cancer battle to the streets of southeast Wisconsin with mobile screening labs. (Pink awareness ribbon courtesy of ACS)
December 23, 2013

MILWAUKEE, Wis. - The American Cancer Society (ACS) is taking the breast-cancer battle to the streets. With support from Kohl's Cares, the ACS Community Health Care Workers program sends nurses and trained professionals out into communities around southeast Wisconsin to give clinical breast exams and offer breast health education.

Wendy Shepard, an ACS Community Health Worker, said they've been to grocery stores, beauty salons, senior centers - everywhere women gather.

"Thankfully, over the past three years, with ACS and Kohl's Community Health Care Worker Program we have made tremendous progress at providing education and screening for more than 32,000 women in the Milwaukee area, in the Wisconsin area," Shepard said.

According to the American Cancer Society, this year more than 4,000 Wisconsin women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and nearly 750 will die of the disease. That's what motivates Shepard, she said.

"My best friend, she lost her battle with breast cancer. I have a cousin right now who is going through it. I have so many people that I know that are going through it right now," she explained.

Community Health Workers like Shepard and nurses bring with them and set up a portable exam room, and administer clinical breast exams. When necessary, they connect the women with free or low-cost mammography screenings. Shepard said their work has been extremely rewarding.

In some of the settings where they work, a little persuasion is sometimes necessary, she added. Some women are reluctant to have the exam.

"It takes a little coaching sometimes, but once they see how the other women came through it then they go 'OK,'" she said, "because we even go to shelters for women and children where some of the women are like 'Oh no, I don't want to do that, I don't want to do that.' When they find out the other women do it, then they go forth and they do it."

According to the American Cancer Society, the majority of breast cancer cases can be treated successfully if detected early.

More information and a donation opportunity are available at www.cancer.org.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI