Aayiram Mammogram

Second Aayiram Mammogram project in support with Sri Matha Trust

Under this project 1000 Women above 40 years will be offered a free mammogram . The ladies will have to attend a 45 minute session of power point & video presentation which will be held every Wednesday at 11 am at Vasantha Memorial cancer centre, No.33, 35th St, near Jawahar vidyalaya main school , Ashok Nagar, Chennai-83

They need to register with our office at 72004-14446 or 97910-48379 or 24717871 for availing this facility. Each Wednesday 25 women will be enrolled for the session.

To make women above 40 years atleast undergo one baseline mammogram

The ideology in the world today is to create Breast consciousness among women. This means a lady needs to be educated everything about her breast and the diseases that can arise in it and importantly stop with that. Do not ask them to do breast self- exam or undergo periodic mammograms or even a regular clinical exam. It is claimed that these offer no advantage in the overall survival of a breast cancer affected. It is believed when a cancer form the hand will automatically head towards the breast and result in the detection.
All this sounds good , but in a country where breast cancer ranks the first among the incidences of cancer and where more than 80% of women are detected late and succumb to the disease , should one stop at breast consciousness ?

The answer is definitely NO. It is 15 years since we have began the breast cancer awareness program. Yes! Women are more open to listening about breast cancer. But women do not perform self exam on a regular basis or get themselves examined by a doctor and least of all undergo a mammogram. We still see women educated & illiterate, rich & poor , come in advanced stages of the disease.

Perturbed by these, we have intensified our breast cancer awareness campaign and even included one to one teaching system since the last 5 years. In a measure to decrease the fear of a mammogram and to simultaneously increase breast cancer awareness we launched the Free 1000 mammogram project in October 2012. Women above 40 years who attended a session on breast cancer at our centre were offered a free mammogram .

The program began on 3rd October 12 and the last session was held on 15th Sept 2013. Mrs. Sundari Vishwanathan, a trained volunteer conducted most of these sessions and in the later part Mrs. Uma Babusekar joined her. Lady staff from the centre chipped in their support for the smooth conduct. The first month has as many as 9 talks and subsequently talks were held every Wednesday and if required on additional days.
The Campaign
The first month saw a lot of enthusiasm from women and the widely publicized pink October campaign got women to enroll in the program. Even here the average attendance dropped as the month progressed and festivals popped up in the calendar. The attendance went down to zero in the month of February 2013.
In the month of March 2013 we clubbed it with the Women’s day activities and had got a celebrity to speak about themselves on each of the days of the breast cancer awareness. There was a very good response. A minimum of 30 women came in for these talks and on the 1st day, when we had culinary expert Mrs. Mallika Badrinath , there were as many as 45 women.
But all the enthusiasm died off mid March and no lady would turn up for the talks. We then launched an intense campaign and literally contacted every woman we knew. All the women’s groups that we were aware were contacted. There was no response. We then put in newspaper inserts , covering one locality a day for the about 10 days. Close 40, 000 handouts were sent out, we monitored their insertion standing besides the newspaper distributors from 4 am in the morning. Advertisements were inserted in local dailies. Nothing was working out and there was not even an enquiry .
We were about to give up and something happened. The messiah was Mrs. Uma Babusekar. She contacted every woman in her family and social circles. For the Wednesday talks her campaign began on Sunday and peaked on Tuesday. Phone calls are made, sms are sent repeatedly, at times to the level of annoyance of the receiver. This paid off and women actually started to come for the talks . From April most women who attended the sessions were thanks to her campaign.
The Response
In the period of one year, 713 women were offered mammograms. Only 563 of them availed this offered. Close to 150 women wasted the facility. This means 1 out of every 5 women chose to not to undergo the mammogram even though it was offered Free!This is really upsetting. Was it fear or was it care damn or a third factor . When analyzed we found out that the maximum drop out was amongst the women who attended these talks during the women’s week activities. Did they come merely to hear the celebrities talk? if that is the truth it is very sad.The least wastage was seen women attending in July & august. These women from middle and lower middle class and these women had come from distant suburbs, some as far as thiruvottiyur. This is very encouraging and also adds value to our project.Of the 563 mammograms done, about 16 of them had abnormal findings or borderline findings .Six women required FNAC. Three required Tru cut biopsy. 2 of these turned out to be very early Breast cancer ( DCIS) . These women underwent selective removal of the tumour and in one of them the remnant breast tissue did not reveal any disease. In effect one woman among the asymptomatic 563 was found to have breast cancer it was in very early stage and she got cured with selective removal and nothing else. Breast remains and she remains alive and that is the best part.Conclusions
The aim was to remove the fear of mammogram more that advocating regular mammograms. We are happy having done so. The awareness session covered the disease, especially the preventive measures extensively, women were taught breast self exam and annual clinical exam was stressed. Some of it has definitely gone in . 10 of the 25 women who turned up for the free breast exam camp on 29th Sept 13 were the attendees of the Aayiram mammogram project.Future
We from the trust will continue Education process and mammograms. Mammogram plus Breast ultrasound is now being offered at Rs. 600/-.