GUEST EDITORIAL — Keep breast cancer awareness in focus on National Mammography Day

Published 12:02 am Friday, October 21, 2022

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On October 21, the United States observes National Mammography Day, an important annual occasion held during Breast Cancer Awareness Month to reinforce the message that early detection is the best protection against cancer.

Throughout the year, Gift of Life similarly strives to educate Southeast Texans about the lifesaving significance of regular breast health screenings.

Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death among women, with an estimated 287,850 new cases and 43,250 deaths projected in 2022. About one in eight women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer during her lifetime.

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Mammography, which is non-invasive X-Ray imaging, is the only test shown to reduce breast cancer deaths because it can detect cancer long before it is felt. According to the American College of Radiology, mammography has helped reduce breast cancer mortality in the U.S. by nearly 40% since 1990, with other studies indicating that mammography screenings have cut the mortality rates from breast cancer nearly in half.

Sadly, Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured residents in the nation (more than twice the national average), and research has proven that women who lack health insurance are much less likely to get mammograms. The most recent data available concluded that only 39% of uninsured American women (aged 50 – 74) had received a mammogram in the past two years, compared to 75% of insured women having been screened.

Gift of Life is dedicated to changing this alarming trend by marshalling all its resources in the fight to save lives. For almost 30 years, the program has provided nearly 43,000 free screening mammograms to thousands of women who have benefited from the comfort and security of this care.

These efforts have helped extend the lives of more than 275 women whose breast cancer was detected through Gift of Life screenings and additional diagnostic tests and who were navigated to treatment.

The program also makes available breast and ovarian cancer awareness and educational materials to heighten knowledge and understanding of these diseases. Ovarian cancer is particularly insidious as it is often a silent disease with vague symptoms. Without a reliable screening protocol, ovarian cancer is best fought through advocacy, education and awareness about its risks and symptoms.

On Oct. 29, Gift of Life will host its annual Julie Richardson Procter 5K Ribbon Run Monster Dash benefitting its breast and ovarian cancer initiatives and named in loving memory of Procter, a beloved board member and local attorney who passed away at the young age of 51 from ovarian cancer.

This family-fun event will feature live entertainment, a 5K Trick or Treat Route, a Wizarding of Wellness Village and much more! (Participants can register at

Prior to the 5K, Gift of Life will host its Harvest of Heroes Ceremony to honor the strength and courage of local survivors. The celebration will include a tribute to the organization’s 2022 Angels Among Us Honorees who have been stalwart ambassadors in the fight against breast and ovarian cancer.

This year’s honorees are Foundation for Southeast Texas Executive Director Mellie Bevilacqua, ExxonMobil Beaumont Public & Government Affairs Manager Nakisha Burns, Port of Beaumont Commissioner Georgine Guillory, Community Volunteer Elaine Henderson, breast cancer survivor and Sempra Infrastructure External Affairs Director Kelly Sempra, Community Volunteer Shelley Tortorice, BASF Community & Government Affairs Manager Shelly Vitanza, and Community Volunteer Jodie Wood, RN.

Please consider being a “Champion of the Cause” by supporting the Ribbon Run and Gift of Life’s many lifesaving efforts throughout the year. Also, don’t delay in scheduling your regular mammogram and other preventative health screenings. Medically underserved women may contact Gift of Life at 409.833.3663 or visit for more information about its free resources.

Your health is your greatest wealth, and early detection can save your life!

— Submitted by Gift of Life