Nina Ruberto understands the importance of early breast cancer detection.
Ruberto received her canceer diagnoses shortly after her 40th birthday. By then the cancer was developed and Ruberto faced extensive treatment.
“It’s not something to be afraid of. You have to take your health into your own hands,” Ruberto said at the launch of the Canadian Cancer Society’s Women to Women movement at the Intercity Shopping Centre Tuesday.
“The earlier you find it, the better it is. If you get your mammogram every two years you should be pretty good.”
The campaign encourages women to sign up as ambassadors, and then educate 10 other women about the importance of early breast cancer detection.
Maria Cabral, the regional manager of the Canadian Cancer Society, said the campaign is about opening up a dialogue.
The organization created unique key chains as a tool that show the average lump size caught by different detection methods as a tool to promote regular screening.
“It’s about ladies having the conversation with one another about the importance of early detection and getting mammograms,” Cabral said.
“Women should talk to women at any stage and at any age.”
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canadian women, and causes the second most cancer related deaths among women in the country.
Getting regularly tested helps ensure that any abnormalities are found earlier in the process. Mammograms can detect lumps the size of a pea, whereas a physical self-examination can usually only detect larger growths.
Ruberto had found a growth, but waited before going to see a doctor. The cancer she had was aggressive, resulting in her having to undergo a double mastectomy, in addition to the chemotherapy, radiation and a lobectomy.
She wishes there was a similar program in place years ago to let her get tested before the cancer had progressed.
“I was so invincible. I was young and busy and never would have even thought,” Ruberto recalled. “If I could have foreseen into the future I would have really appreciated somebody at the age of 35 to check.”
Cabral said currently 61 per cent of women in Ontario are getting screened for breast cancer, but would like to see that number approach the 90 per cent mark.
The program was launched at the Maurice’s store, where all members of the management team have signed up to be ambassadors.
“We’ve had a lot of women on our team how have been directly affected by breast cancer,” Jennifer Cavezza, a part-time assistant said.
“We’re all so young, all under 30-years-old, and if we can start now to educate women and get tested ourselves it’s a better future for everybody.”
Ruberto said she believes this is a program that can be quite effective.
“I found this program is a great way for women to be empowered and tell their friends and share the importance of having mammograms beginning at the age of 50 and for younger women to be checking,” Ruberto said.
Women can become a breast cancer ambassador by signing up at www.cancer.ca/womentowomen
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