Pledging to get women early detection

One in eight American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. However, 98% of those who get early detection are successfully treated.

Mission Hospital is challenging women to get a yearly exam during May with the Pinky Pledge campaign.

The hospital, which has locations in Laguna Beach and Mission Viejo, is asking 1,000 Orange County women to sign up for a mammogram. According to the hospital, only 53% of women who need mammograms get them.

On Saturday, the Pinky Pledge Street Team, clad in pink attire and armed with matching iPads, hit Main Beach to sign women up for their yearly exam.

A national survey by the CDC shows that the number of women receiving their yearly mammogram is decreasing. The hospital decided to do its own study, asking women what was deterring them from getting the life-saving check-up.

Two reasons stood out: online scheduling and weekend appointments.

During May and June, Mission Hospital has extended its hours to accommodate for evening and weekend scheduling. If women aren't approached by the street team, they can also sign up at

"What's so unique about our campaign is that we truly are taking an innovative approach by going into the community — where women are out doing their daily activities — and making it as convenient as possible to schedule their mammograms," said Colleen Reinhart, director of marketing and communications for Mission Hospital.

Sarah Brady, who lived in Laguna Beach for more than 30 years but now resides in Dana Point, was diagnosed with breast cancer in December. After her sister got breast cancer in 1986, Brady was religious about her mammograms, never missing a check-up.

It was when Brady was giving herself a self-exam that she felt something was wrong.

"I just think the most important thing is to pay attention to your body," she said. "I always had lumps and just one started to feel different. I went to the doctor, and it was different."

In seven months a tumor had grown, and she was diagnosed with Stage III cancer. However, Brady remains upbeat, continuing to work as an accountant and enjoying recording music with her musician husband. She gives Mission Hospital a lot of credit for keeping her grounded and considering her through the whole process.

She also appreciates the fact that her team has always included her in the decision-making process.

"Mission Hospital has just been great. Everyone has been so nice, concerned and sweet," she said. "It's so nice compared to how it could be when you're deathly afraid of what could happen to you and you have no idea."

Brady hopes women take the statistics seriously and not only get yearly mammograms, but also monitor their breasts on a regular basis through self-exams.

"Breast cancer is preventable. It's survivable. I have a very good prognosis, and it's because I caught it when I did," she said. "One in eight women get breast cancer. Those are kind of scary numbers. We owe it to ourselves to stay on top of it."

So far, Mission Hospital has had 155 women take the pledge.

The Pinky Pledge Street Team will be at the Laguna Beach Farmer's Market and Village Fair Shoppes on Saturday and at Main Beach on Sunday.

During May, Mission Hospital is also hosting a contest for a Tiffany & Co. ring with diamonds and pink sapphires as part of the campaign. Women can enter at the Imaging Center in Laguna Beach or the Women's Wellness Center in Mission Viejo.

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