SIKESTON - It has to do with persistence and a determination to save lives.
So if women won't come to the American Cancer Society, the American Cancer Society will go to them.
Tell A Friend Tuesday moves beyond awareness to encourage a life-saving behavior change. Through the project, women in communities across the country will set aside time Oct. 1 to contact friends and loved ones and encourage them to schedule their annual mammograms.
In observance of that day, which is in conjunction of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Scott County women are invited to a Women's Awareness Luncheon at the First Baptist Church's Family Life Center, 1101 N. Main St., from noon to 1 p.m. Oct. 1.
It's a new personal outreach program for the ACS and the first time it's been implemented locally. It seeks to provide women an opportunity to save lives by simply making a few phone calls to increase mammography use by women who aren't currently getting mammograms.
Every three minutes a woman in the United States learns she has breast cancer. An estimated 203,500 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and 40,000 women will die from the disease, making breast cancer the second leading cause of cancer deaths in American women.
"The whole purpose of this luncheon is to make woman who are age 40 and older aware of the need for mammograms," explained Robin Stoner, community specialist for the Scott County ACS health initiatives department. "Women will find that in having a yearly mammogram they will have one of the strongest weapons against breast cancer. Also, we will be educating women 20 and older how to do monthly self-exams and encourage them to have a physician do a clinical breast exam regularly.
Hosting the luncheon, which will include prizes and educational displays, are the Scott County ACS, Scott County Health Department, Scott County Breast Cancer Awareness Committee, Missouri Delta Medical Center and Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Project.
Also featured at the event will be various guest speakers who, according to Stoner, know first-hand the importance mammograms play in a woman's life. "Hearing from actual women at the luncheon who have been diagnosed with breast cancer will have an impact on the women there," Stoner said, adding that a health professional will be part of the program as well. "We are making women aware of this danger and giving them a chance to help win the battle against breast cancer by doing Tell A Friend calls on Oct. 1."
Stoner pointed out the ACS is setting up a phone bank at the luncheon which is being made possible by AT&T Wireless. It will be at the ACS office, 201 N. New Madrid.
"This is going to be a celebration of the fact that according to the most recent data, mortality rates declined significantly during 1990-1997," Stoner said.
"These decreases have been aided by the American Cancer Society's research programs, which have resulted in improved detection and treatment methods to fight the disease. Also, the American Cancer Society's educational programs have encouraged women to get their mammogram and perform self exams, resulting in greater survival rates. So we are celebrating because we are winning the fight against breast cancer."
Stoner emphasized a mammogram is a woman's best defense against breast cancer because it catches the disease early, when it is the most treatable.
Tickets, which are $3 each, can be purchased until Sept. 30 by contacting the ACS at 471-1823 or 1-800-ACS-2345.
Groups, businesses or organizations interested in participating in Tell A Friend Tuesday are asked to call the same number.