Sitting in the basement at First Missionary Baptist Church in Clayton, Cynthia Toudle tells a woman, “They’re ready for you on the bus.”
Toudle, a Clayton resident, was coordinating the Rex Healthcare Mobile Mammography Unit’s May 16 visit to her church, where 18 women received free screenings.
“This is to help women who have not had a mammogram in a few years and who may have financial issues in getting one on their own,” Toudle said as she stood to greet the next patient.
The mobile unit travels throughout the Triangle – to churches, health departments, workplaces and senior centers. Women who qualify for the free service sign up in advance and go to a scheduled site where professionals perform the screening inside the specially-designed bus. The results are then sent to the individual’s personal physician.
Toudle said that while the Affordable Care Act is reducing the number of uninsured Johnston County residents, some women still don’t have coverage.
“There is a group that falls through the cracks,” Toudle said, adding that her church partnered with Project Access of Johnston County, which seeks to ensure that all residents visit a primary-care doctor.
Pherbia Smith of Clayton attended the mobile mammography event. A breast cancer survivor, she is part of Save Our Sisters of Rex, a group of community volunteers who lead educational workshops on breast cancer prevention.
Smith said she goes to churches, beauty shops and other places to share the most current breast health information.
“We talk to both women and men to save their lives,” Smith said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says women ages 50-74 should get a mammogram every two years, and many doctors recommend the screening for younger patients. Toudle, who is retired from the Johnston County Health Department, said women who have a genetic predisposition should get mammograms starting at age 40.
A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast, which doctors read for masses or calcifications, which are tiny mineral deposits within the breast tissue.
Smith was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003. She did not have a lump in her breast; her cancer was discovered through a mammogram.
“It’s something that is necessary to early detection,” Smith said.
Toudle is also a breast cancer survivor. After being diagnosed in 2010, she went through chemotherapy and radiation treatment – procedures she said can be avoided through early detection.
“If we catch it before they find a lump, they usually don’t have to have those treatments,” Toudle said.
For more information on Rex Healthcare’s Mobile Mammography Unit, go to www.rexhealth.com/mobile-mammography.
Dunn: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104