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Now there's no excuse not to book your mammogram: the 45-foot-long Pink Tour bus is encouraging women to become breast cancer aware.
These days, there is no shortage of pink products and packaging proclaiming the importance of breast cancer awareness.
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But according to the B.C./Yukon chapter of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, not enough women are receiving the message. Only 51 per cent of women who should undergo a mammogram, generally woman over the age of 40, actually do. If this number was raised to 70 per cent, they say survival rates could increase by up to one third.
Therein lies the inspiration behind the Pink Tour, a province-wide initiative launched by the CBCF that encourages women aged 40-79 to register for a free mammogram.
The 45-foot-long bright pink bus is making the rounds in communities across British Columbia, allowing women to step aboard and schedule their mammogram, as well as learn potentially life-saving tips regarding breast cancer.
Visitors sign the Pink Bus with memories and well wishes.
The response has been overwhelmingly positive, with over 4000 women boarding the bus and over 350 signing up for a mammogram since the tour began in May.
Unlike the Pink Hop On/Hop Off Buses that also launched this year in Vancouver, the Pink Tour focuses on awareness rather than fundraising.
“We’re not collecting money and we’re not trying to scare people about cancer,” says Colleen Nicholson, tour manager for the Pink Tour. “It’s just about learning to live a healthy lifestyle and be more aware of the risks.”
The bus itself is covered with hand-written messages and signatures, commemorating lost loved ones and offering words of inspiration.
Once men and women board the bus, they can test their breast cancer knowledge with skill-testing questions, such as whether deodorant is linked to breast cancer (it’s not), if smoking will increase risks (it will) and if breast feeding will help lower your risk of developing breast cancer (it will—the longer, the better.) After the trivia challenge, a laptop is available for women to sign up for their free mammogram.
Tour Manager Colleen Nicholson displays the Pink Tour Bus trivia board.
“The most rewarding part of the job is convincing someone who has been too afraid to get a mammogram to sign up for one,” says Nicholson.
She says she was surprised at how many women are hesitant to get a mammogram because of the anticipated pain or discomfort—not the fact they may learn they have breast cancer.
But according to Nicholson, the discomfort is actually minor, and is far outweighed by the benefits of getting screened. “And as women, I’d say we’re pretty used to discomfort,” she adds with a laugh. “This is just one more thing.”
The Pink Bus is next in town July 8 to 15, and will be making stops in Vancouver and across British Columbia until Labour Day weekend.