BUTTE - Women living in Butte have an easier time getting a mammogram, but many women across southwest Montana don’t have the means or time to get one.
St. James Healthcare is raising funds through its 2022 Spirit Gala to buy a mobile mammogram unit to make it easier for women to get the healthcare they need across southwest Montana.
Kacie Bartholomew, the director of development for the St. James healthcare foundation, says the foundation raised about $90,000 before the pandemic closed down events.
"Our goal over the next two years is to raise about $770,000 and that’s why this event is so crucial is because it really helps us raise a significant amount to put towards that," said Bartholomew.
Once operational, the unit will initially serve Silver Bow, Deer Lodge, Powell, Granite, Beaverhead, Madison, and Jefferson counties.
1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and Montana's rate for mammograms is one of the lowest in the nation.
Mobile mammogram units allow women in rural areas to access crucial services. These units can also help detect breast cancer early which happened to Vonni Bray, a Laurel resident using St. Vincent’s mobile mammogram service.
"Results were there was a spot that they wanted to check and so I was to set up an appointment for a diagnostic mammogram in the hospital downtown. . . it was then that I appreciated the easiness and convenience of the bus," said Bray.
Bartholomew says the better access St. James can provide, the better chance they have of catching breast cancer early.
"We really want to provide that access for our rural area," said Bartholomew.