The Canadian Cancer Society has launched a campaign designed to remind women to get checked for breast cancer before it’s too late.
They are giving away special keychains, called thingamaboobs, or memo-mammo in French, because they say many women still don’t get screened for the disease as fears and misconceptions about mammography and breast cancer circulate.
The women being targeted are between ages 50 and 69.
“Eight percent of the cancers, for breast cancer, is between that age,” said Dominique Synnott, trauma and breast pathology surgeon. “Cancers happen before and after that age but most breast cancers happened within that range.”
The Quebec government has a breast cancer screening program. Personal letters are sent to women beginning at age 50 to start getting mammograms. One is sent every two years.
Carolyne Jannard also got one when she turned 50.
“I called and a week after I had my mammogram,” she told Global News, adding it probably saved her life.
“Actually I had three lumps in my right breast and it was an invasive, pretty aggressive kind of cancer. So I’m really privileged to have found it in time.”
What concerns medical professionals is that many of those women don’t get screened, despite receiving the letter.
“What we hear is they receive the letter, or they put it in the garbage, and they forget about it,” Synnott said. “Otherwise they put it on a fridge and mean to go, but they don’t go for years.”
The Society is also targeting women in ethnic minority and low-income groups, many of whom, they say, don’t get screened, explaining that language is one reason.
“Maybe some of the women don’t speak neither French nor English, so we had to adapt our message and send literature in their language,” Thingamaboob campaign ambassador Marie-Hélène Luly pointed out.
She added that some are afraid of what may be found, while others have misconceptions about screening and treatment.
Cancer Society officials say the thingamaboob, besides being a simple reminder, helps to drive home the importance of getting a mammogram. It has two balls, which represent cancer lumps.
“The bigger (ball) is what you find on your breast when you find something wrong,” Synnott explained, “and the smaller red one on top is the size that can be detected using a mammogram. We can save your life.”
The keychains are available for $5 plus tax at Jean Coutu pharmacies, until Jan. 10, 2020.