Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center and First Coast News have launched the Buddy Bus, a mobile mammography unit dedicated to bringing mammograms to people throughout the community.
To celebrate the launch, First Coast News hosted a party at its station featuring food trucks, music, and giveaways. Donors, physicians and breast cancer survivors also attended, and live coverage of the celebration began at 5 pm.
About 35% of women don’t get a regular mammogram, yet one in eight women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. To improve access, Baptist MD Anderson has worked closely with the First Coast News team and generous donors to raise the $1 million required to purchase and equip the bus. The bus will offer mammograms for men as well as women.
“We are so grateful to all the donors who have made this mobile mammography unit possible,” said LeeAnn Mengel, vice president of Baptist MD Anderson. “Your support will allow us to bring life-saving screenings to key community organizations, events and local employers.”
The name of the bus is a reference to the longstanding Buddy Check program, which, for more than 30 years, has encouraged local women and their friends to do monthly breast self-checks. The program includes monthly news segments about finding breast cancer early, featuring First Coast News anchor Jeannie Blaylock, as well as free Buddy Check kits that explain how to perform a self-exam.
“I always tell folks to think about the people they love beyond words,” said Jeannie Blaylock, a First Coast News anchor. “Do Buddy Check for them because they need you alive. And now with the Buddy Bus, do not skip that mammogram. It can pick up pre-cancers as tiny as grains of sand. That can save your life!”
Baptist Health recommends women start their annual mammograms at age 40. Men and women with a family history of breast cancer may be eligible to get screened sooner and should discuss their screening options with their primary care physician.
“Detection is crucial for catching breast cancer early. The most effective way to do this is through screening,” said Laila Samiian, MD, director of the breast program at Baptist MD Anderson. “Initiatives like the Buddy Bus are what make it possible for us to catch breast cancer at its earliest, most treatable stages.”