Back during the end of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a mobile mammography bus courtesy of the Sask Cancer Agency began a temporary service stay in the West Central area. The bus was parked in Kerrobert from November 7th to the 18th, and then it hit the road to Kindersley back on November 21st, and its final day of service in town is set for today, December 2nd.
View the original story below as we talked to Laurie Pearce, the Early Detection Coordinator for breast screening, and she gave some information about the bus and how women can book appointments.
We checked back in with Pearce as the bus is now set to depart Kindersley, and she was very happy with the intake they saw from West Central women.
"It's been great, both in Kindersley and Kerrobert. A majority of the appointments were filled!"
Pearce explained how the techs on hand work Monday to Friday, and travel from Saskatoon to wherever the bus may be to perform their shift. Switching back to the attendance they saw from patients, just because all of the appointments were filled doesn't mean all of the tests were performed.
"Sometimes a woman may be a no-show for an appointment, and we knew that weather was a part of the problem with that," said Pearce before digging into the bigger picture as both sites were ultimately highly successful in terms of appointments, "It's been good. Women are excited to have us back on the road, and to have better access to the service."
The appointments are usually filled by women who receive a notice in the mail that the bus is coming to town, as Pearce explained the targeted approach to providing the mobile mammogram service.
"For each mobile site we invite by postal code. We invite the ladies from Kindersley, and Kerrobert, but there are also communities around each of those sites that we invite based on postal code," said Pearce describing the extra invites as their "Catchment Community" for an area.
Another interesting aspect of the bus is that all women 50 years of age and older are welcome and encouraged to make an appointment, but they need to know that is only a screening and that other appointments would need to be made to diagnose a potential issue.
"If a woman is having symptoms, a breast lump or discharges or those types of things, then they would need to go to their doctor and get a 'diagnostic mammogram' which is actually zeroing in on the area of concern," explained the Early Detection Coordinator, " The Screening Program for Breast Cancer is intended for healthy, well women, who are not experiencing any breast symptoms. For women who are, they would need to go to their doctor."
This is an important thing for people to understand so they know what direction to go, and it's just like anything in the Sask Cancer Agency's world that would see further, and more expanded tests done on men or women that are experiencing symptoms.
The bus is the only one of its kind in Saskatchewan with mammogram's being the only service provided in a portable fashion. Pearce made sure to mention their current efforts to get a replacement as we move into 2023.
"I should mention that we have a foundation, the Saskatchewan Cancer Foundation, that is currently fundraising for a new mobile unit. This one is fairly old, it's a 2002 MCI Motor Coach," said Pearce as they hope for a replacement. Whether it be another bus, a truck, a trailer; it doesn't matter unless as long as the service hits the road.
Regardless of their ride, they just want to keep bringing the service across Saskatchewan.
"I mean it's a great service, and we were off the road for a bit there. We haven't been to communities for four years, so we go to 42 communities on an odd/even year basis. We went to 22 communities this year in 2022, and then in January we will start our odd year route in Weyburn."
As for what's left in 2022, one more stop is taking place in the West Central region.
"We move to Outlook, so we are there for a couple of weeks. Then we are in Davidson for our last visit of the year."
The bus then goes back to Regina for its yearly maintenance according to Pearce, before hitting the road again in January. Pearce mentioned that sites they will be visiting in 2023 are available on saskcancer.ca.
One of the bus techs in Nancy Bell was on hand yesterday as West Central Online got a tour of the bus. See a picture of the back of the bus where the tests are performed below: