First Mobile Mammography Unit Books Every Appointment at NHBP

28 Women Get Screened on Pink Indigenous Day

By Katie Halloran

NHBP claps back at breast cancer by hosting its first Mobile Mammography Unit event on Indigenous Pink Day, October 19.

Presented each year by the American Indian Cancer Foundation (AICAF), Indigenous Pink Day does more than ask people to wear pink – it celebrates the power that prevention can hold for Indigenous women all over the country, as well as honors those who have gone through their own and loved ones’ journeys with cancer. The AICAF also provided NHBP with a grant to help host its first mobile mammogram event.

“I saw the Hannahville Indian Community bringing a mobile mammography van to its Reservation on social media last September,” said NHBP Community Health Representative (CHR) and Tribal Member Lisa Walker. A breast cancer survivor herself, getting her fellow Tribal Members access to mammograms is important to Walker, who’s been in the CHR role for nearly two years.

“Since Hannahville began its Mobile Mammography program last year, their Tribe has seen their breast cancer screening rates go up to 90%. If NHBP could get there, that would be amazing.”

In hopes of helping NHBP Tribal Members achieve higher mammography rates, Walker arranged for a similar mobile mammography unit to be parked at the Grand Rapids Health Facility for an entire day. The large Mammography unit from Corewell Health has everything that a patient undergoing a mammogram needs, including a check-in area, a dressing area, and most importantly, the mammography machine itself.

While cozy and mobile, the mammography unit is also incredibly efficient. In just a single day, 28 NHBP clinic patients received their mammograms.

“I haven’t had a mammogram in five years,” said Katheri Johnson, 50, a Citizen of Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, who has lived in Grand Rapids her entire life. “Having it here at the clinic, it’s just so nice and easy to schedule it and get in. With the pandemic, and then trying to get it scheduled at other places, it didn’t happen.”

Johnson does not have a family history of breast cancer, but she wanted to “just get everything checked,” so she scheduled her mammogram through NHBP.

Throughout the day, NHBP Health and Human Services (HHSD) staff treated Johnson and other patients to a festive vibe with a photo booth. They entered patients in for the chance to receive giveaways and provided them with information on how to take the proper steps to prevent and screen for breast cancer, the second deadliest of all cancers for Native American women.

There was much to be celebrated on Indigenous Pink Day this year, as several women scheduled their mammograms for the first time.

“It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be,” said one patient who received her first mammogram.

Walker plans to bring a Mobile Mammography unit to The Pine Creek Indian Reservation and back to Grand Rapids on future dates, all in hopes of reducing barriers for NHBP Tribal Members and others served by NHBP Health facilities. From these mobile events, women who need any follow-up screening or referrals are referred to the health care facility of their choosing in a timely manner.

If you are interested in getting help scheduling a mammogram, please call 269.986.6040.

For more photos from Pink Indigenous Day and the Mobile Mammography event, please visit

https://nhbp.passgallery.com/-mobilemammogramshostedbynhbp.

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