Women Helping Women: The Importance of Free Breast Clinics

When it comes to breast care, not all women have the same access. Mammograms and breast exams can be costly—not to mention scary—for those without health insurance.  Brooke Renfro is a mammographer at ProMedica Bay Park Hospital, and through a grant from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Northwest Ohio affiliate, she has been able to help both women and men be more proactive about their breast health through free screening breast clinics.

“Knowing that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point throughout her life is a pretty staggering statistic,” she says. “That’s why clinical breast exams and mammograms are some of the best ways to detect for breast cancer at its earliest stage, when the survival rate is extremely optimistic.”

Renfro works with a skilled team, complete with midwives, mammographers, sonographers, radiologists, breast navigators, registration, support services, and clinical staff to ensure the comfort and safety of each person they screen. She travels from Defiance to Fostoria helping patients understand their results, and assisting them during this often emotional experience.

“We have the opportunity to meet many extraordinary men and women who come to these events scared of the test, and the results they may receive,” Renfro says. “We help comfort them, and become a resource for them as well.”

Renfro feels a different set of emotions at each and every screening event. Many individuals are relieved to hear the words, ‘Your exam was normal, see you in a year.”  Renfro says she feels great joy for these patients.

And quite the opposite happens when the biopsy comes back positive.

“On several occasions throughout the years, I have seen the dramatic impact on the lives of people who learn they now have breast cancer,” Renfro says. “Each case is unique, but I am always in awe that we were connected to each other by way of the grant.”

If it weren’t for these free screenings, many people would not get their mammograms. Renfro often asks herself how long it would have been before the cancer would be found. Would it have been caught early enough? Are there uninsured women out there who are not getting mammograms because of financial reasons and don’t know about this opportunity?

“These questions are part of my drive to continue to work hard to fight for a cure.”

Renfro also strives to empower the individuals she sees to become advocates in their own communities. Getting screened is crucial for those who qualify, but it’s equally important to inform others that these services exist.

“As a community, together with friends and family, it is our responsibility to each other to help educate, screen and treat men and women,” says Renfro. “One more diagnosis is one too many.”

ProMedica’s free screening mammogram clinics provide breast cancer screenings for individuals between the ages of 40-60 who have no insurance or insurance with a high deductible for mammograms. Qualified patients must not have had a mammogram within the last 24 months. Community members are eligible, regardless of age, if they had breast cancer in the past, have an immediate family member with breast cancer, or have a breast abnormality found by himself or herself or their healthcare provider. For more information, please call 419-734-8080.