Saturday, March 13, 2010

Terlingua Now Has Mobile Mammography!

Terlingua women will have mobile mammography on Wed April 28! Also in Van Horn, Presidio, Alpine or Marfa. Call Desert Imaging (800) 466-4411 or (915) 577-0100 to schedule. Sliding scale for cash/insurance accepted. Miracles do happen. Pass this along to everyone, please!!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

At last, mobile mammography returns to the Big Bend

FAR WEST TEXAS – A mobile mammography unit that will save Big Bend women hundreds of miles of travel will roll into the area later this month.
Desert Imaging, of El Paso, is expanding its outreach effort and bringing its Digital Mammography Coach for day-long visits to Alpine, Van Horn and Marfa on October 28-30.

The need is so great that all the appointments are already filled, said Mary Clare Spear, of Big Bend Regional Medical Center. Don’t worry, though. More visits from the mobile unit are in the works.

“They’ve never really come this far before and this is whole new territory for them,” Spear said of Desert Imaging. “They’re coming back in January and we’ve started a list for appointments in January. I’m encouraging everyone to call and get on the list so they can schedule.”

Yearly mammograms are recommended for all women over the age of 40, but the closest mammogram facilities are in Odessa or El Paso. It’s a long way to go for a procedure that only takes a few minutes.

“It’s almost a 500-mile round trip from my home in Terlingua,” said Adrienne Evans, a breast cancer survivor.

For some years, a mobile unit visited the area, but its funding was eventually lost and there was no immediate replacement. Spear then loaded up a Big Bend Regional Medical Center van once a month and ferried women to a mammogram facility in Odessa.

“I did that because we didn’t have anything else,” she said. “Now, we do. I’m very excited.”

Adrienne Evans eats healthfully and leads an active life. Breast cancer doesn’t run in her family. She was 50 years old in 2005, when she found a lump in her breast. Diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma, Evans underwent treatment that included a mastectomy and breast reconstruction.

“I foolishly never really thought I was at risk,” she said. “I later learned that most women with breast cancer have no family history of the disease. I’m okay now, but it’s much easier to beat if you catch it early. I had put off a mammogram for various reasons. Now, I don’t.”

Early detection can be a lifesaver, say health experts.

“The survival rate is improved tremendously by early detection and better adjuvant therapy,” said Dr. Darrell Parsons, of Presidio County Health Services. “It’s no longer the number one cancer killer for women.”

He’s among the Big Bend health community members who is advocating for Desert Imaging to make regular runs throughout this region, including Presidio and Terlingua. These visits may be scheduled quarterly or, perhaps, monthly in different communities.

“I’ve got so many patients who need it,” Parsons said.

The effort to get a mobile unit to the Big Bend has been a long-held goal of a local grassroots group. Evans, along with Alpine physician Adrian Billings, started the Big Bend Mammography Coalition about two years ago.

“We’re a group of health care providers and survivors that put a lot of hard work, prayers and good wishes for our sisters, daughters and mothers to bring this screening to the Big Bend,” Evans said. “Dr. Billings had witnessed first-hand in his practice what happens when women put off getting screened and he was very determined to get mammograms here.”

The coalition members made inquiries, raised awareness and settled on a list of prioritized criteria.

“Foremost, it needed to be mobile,” said Spear. “Secondly, it needed to be digital, which is better and easier for radiologists to read.”

Mike Ellis, CEO at Big Bend Regional, is ultimately responsible for getting Desert Imaging on board. The traveling mammography unit is indeed digital and can accommodate 50 appointments per day. The appointment book filled very quickly for this first visit. In Alpine, said Spear, 68 women are scheduled for the day.

Spear is no longer driving a van to Odessa for monthly mammography visits. She doesn’t miss the drive, but she’s a little nostalgic for the camaraderie.

“Those trips were always wonderful,” she recalled. “There were usually 10 women who didn’t know each other and every trip was different. One time I had a sewing club and needles were flying while they were all quilting. We’d laugh until we cried. I’m going miss that, but this is better.”

It’s fitting that news of the mobile unit comes now. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. Persistence, dedication and positive thinking have helped secure mammography service for the area, Evans observed. She would know.

“It goes to show that no matter what the obstacle, if people put their minds and hearts to something meaningful, they are truthful, their intentions are grounded in love and they persevere, it will happen,” she said. “That’s the same attitude one needs to overcome any difficulty in life, including overcoming breast cancer.”

Desert Imaging accepts private insurance, Medicare or self-pay. Self-pay is $100. You must be 40 or older. For insurance coverage, it must be at least 366 days since your last mammogram.

To be put on the waiting list for the mobile unit’s January appointments, call Desert Imaging at: 915.577.0100.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Digital Mammography Comes to the Big Bend!

AT LONG LAST, A MIRACLE HAS HAPPENED. Thanks to Big Bend Regional Medical Center, Marfa Community Health Clinic and Desert Imaging from El Paso!

A digital mammography van, operated by Desert Imaging, will be in Marfa on Friday, October 30, 2009, in Van Horn on Thursday, October 29, and in Alpine on Wednesday, October 28. You call 800-466-4411 to set up an appointment. When the computerized voice asks, say, "El Paso" and "Desert Imaging." Then you get to talk to a real person!

It's only $100 if you are uninsured. They take cash or credit. Insurance, Medicaid and Medicare also are accepted.


Friday, December 5, 2008

Breast Health Summit - article in Houston Chronicle

Breast health gets voice at summit:
Topics include treatment for the underinsured


Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
Oct. 24, 2008

Adrienne Evans was a working mom and volunteer in rural West Texas when she felt a lump in her breast two years ago.
Because she had no health insurance, the acupuncturist sought a screening in El Paso. The doctor confirmed her suspicion: She had breast cancer.

Evans recounted her story on Friday to 200 experts, advocates and survivors at the fourth annual Breast Health Summit. The event is presented by the Breast Health Collaborative of Texas, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Houston affiliate and The Rose, a Houston breast health nonprofit.

Helping other women

Low-income women like Evans are eligible for free or reduced-cost treatment under the state's Breast and Cervical Cancer Services program.

State resources allowed her to have a mastectomy and breast reconstruction. Today, Evans is cancer-free.

"I went from being an uninsured breast cancer patient without enough money to pay for diagnosis and treatment to a healthy woman who found her voice for advocacy," said Evans, 52, who helped form the Big Bend Mammography Coalition to bring breast cancer treatment to rural West Texas.

Her lunchtime talk punctuated points raised earlier by Houston hospital administrators about the growing crisis of the uninsured and underinsured. According to Census estimates released this month, one in three Harris County residents under age 65 does not have health insurance. About 26 percent of Texans lack coverage.

Dan Wolterman, chief executive of the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, called the underinsured the more serious challenge.

"It is people who do have insurance, but their co-pays and deductibles are so high to bring that premium cost down that when they do have an episode of care, they simply cannot afford it," he said. "It's going to result in a delayed treatment of a medical condition and it also may cause that person their health — and potentially their life — but also cost society a lot more money to treat."

Personal responsibility

Just as belt-tightening and saving are the disciplines of a looming recession, Dr. Ron Walters said personal responsibility for one's health care is necessary in treating cancer these days.

"Waiting for the person to show up with stage three and four disease is not going to cure this disease most of the time," said Walters, a medical director at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

David S. Lopez, CEO of the Harris County Hospital District, said the key to better access to health care is patients modifying behaviors and educating health care providers about the realities faced by patients.

Billions could be saved, Lopez said, if Texans would stop smoking, drinking, abusing drugs and overeating — behaviors that contribute to diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer.

The Breast Health Summit is an annual advocacy and educational event now held in October to mark Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Lymphatic massage for breast

I like this video (see right) for lymph node massage of the armpit, affecting the breast. As a breast cancer survivor, I've incorporated various strategies to maintain my own health, and this is one of them.

On December 1, I submitted a grant for the Avon Hello Tomorrow Fund, to be able to advocate full time for breast health education and for getting mammography for our area. The state legislative session begins in mid-January, and we need support from our state legislators to get mammography for the Big Bend and surrounding area.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Welcome to the Big Bend Mammography Coalition Website

Our goal is to provide mammograms and breast cancer education for the women of Big Bend and the Trans Pecos. Be sure to check back for updates! Please tell your friends about our website! In 2007, Adrian Billings, M.D. and Adrienne Evans, L.Ac., along with other health practitioners, breast cancer survivors, and friends and family of survivors, formed a local coalition to band together to promote breast cancer awareness and get breast screening for everyone who needs it in our area.

Any feedback or contributions to this website in terms of original articles or blogs about screening for breast cancer would be appreciated! We appreciate all your ideas and support in finding a way to promote mammography for the Big Bend. Please send a message to Adrienne Evans at

We will be posting our progress towards the goal of providing mammography for the Big Bend here regularly. Check back often!