In 2013, the Northwest Indiana Breast Care Center at Methodist Hospitals was determined to make a change. Jennifer Sanders, Manager of the Center, refused to allow another woman to leave their doors without treatment just because she didn’t have the funds.
To spark this change, the Center applied to the Chicago Bears philanthropic program, Bears Care. The program donates to a slew of varied programs, including women and cancer treatment groups, with millions of dollars to give where they see fit.
Sanders applied because the Center had a need. Only 52% of women were receiving yearly screenings in Lake County. This led to the county having the highest rate of late-stage diagnosis and breast cancer mortality in Indiana.
“One of the biggest things we are challenged with are funds. We applied for a grant through the Bears Care program to eliminate that barrier,” Sanders said.
Since 2013, the Northwest Indiana Breast Care Center has honored a grant recipient of the Bears Care Program each year. This survivor from the Northwest Indiana Breast Care Center partakes in the Chicago Bears’ ‘Pink Game.’ Here, survivors from all walks of life are able to bond over lunch, meet a Chicago Bears player, and are then invited onto the field before the game. Hundreds of fans and players wear ‘Real Bears Fans Wear Pink’ shirts to support the Bears Care program funds.
So, if you are a woman, or man (yes, even men can get mammograms), who needs a mammogram but can’t afford it, here is what you need to know.
First, call (219) 981-5440 to see if you are financially qualified. Once approved, the Center will take you through screening mammograms, an ultrasound, and a follow-up to the point of diagnosis. If results indicate that treatment is necessary, breast navigators will be readily available to work with you.
“Most times when results come back positive they will get insurance covered by the state if they don’t have it,” Sanders said. “The biggest reason to get a mammogram is to make sure you are healthy. We want to take care of you and educate you. We want women to be aware.”
Despite high-risk patients, the Northwest Indiana Breast Care Center has found that it often doesn't matter whether you exercise or eat healthy, you can still be diagnosed.
“We want all women to know this happens to everybody,” Sanders said. “The mentality that, ‘this can’t happen to me,’ needs to go away. Mammograms are important because they identify a plethora of things that may be happening in your body.”
Sanders also stressed the importance of taking care of yourself.
“You are a priority. We are looking to inspire women to take care of themselves. Saving money for healthcare is difficult, and health suffers is you are not financially stable. We remove that barrier.”
For more information on the Northwest Indiana Breast Care Center of Methodist Hospitals, visit their website at www.methodisthospitals.org. To schedule your annual mammogram or see if you qualify for their Bears Care program, call (219) 981-5440.