WBTV hosts Project Pink to provide free mammogram screenings to women for fifth consecutive year

Updated: Oct. 8, 2020 at 10:14 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - For the fifth year in a row, WBTV is partnering with Levine Cancer Institute and Charlotte Radiology to host Project Pink.

Project Pink is a Levine Cancer Institute and Charlotte Radiology program that provides free mammograms to women in Mecklenburg County who do not have insurance, or their insurance does not cover mammograms.

Petra Bell, 54, knows she is at a higher risk of developing cancer because of the history of cancer in her family. Her grandmother fought breast cancer three times before she died. Her mother was just diagnosed with breast cancer last November.

“I think there’s about seven to ten of us who have some form of cancer. All the women that fall in that number have had breast cancer,” Bell said.

Because of her high risk, she is sure to get her mammogram screening done each year. But she recently lost her job, so she no longer had insurance to cover the cost of the bill.

“Then, I’m panicking because I don’t have any insurance and then I felt a lump. And I don’t know if it was really there or if it was emotional, but I felt it,” Bell said.

Like Bell, there are many women who may skip their annual mammogram screening because they do not have the insurance to cover it.

“For women who don’t have insurance, it’s especially easy to overlook. The out-of-pocket cost for a mammogram is very high. So that makes it difficult for women who don’t have insurance to pay that high out of cost for one,” Levine Cancer Institute’s Cacky Higgins said.

Higgins says 3D diagnostic mammograms cost $250 out of pocket.

Because there are better outcomes when cancers are detected early, Project Pink provides women with free mammogram screenings who may not have the means to get one otherwise.

Since 2011, Project Pink has screened about 1300 women each year. Of those 1300 screenings, Project Pink usually catches more than 20 cancers inpatients each year.

This year, Project Pink has seen a bigger demand for free mammograms due to more people losing their jobs or insurance in the coronavirus pandemic.

“Project Pink is especially helpful at this time because we are really stepping in and trying to fill that gap for those women so they don’t have to call around or put off a mammogram because they can’t afford it,” Higgins said.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, they are seeing fewer patients at each event, but have increased the number of events they are hosting to accommodate the same, if not more, patients.

Women are required to wear a mask during the screening.

Bell received her free mammogram screening through Project Pink. She says it came back clear. Her mother was recently deemed cancer-free.

“I’m so grateful to them and the resources they offer because they’re saving lives. Because I don’t know what I would be able to, I still don’t have insurance, so would I have been able to take the mammogram,” Bell said.

Forty women will receive free mammograms at WBTV on October 8.

All the appointments on that day are filled, but Project Pink will have other events in the future. Please call 980-442-3075 or email to schedule your appointment.

Eligibility Guidelines:

· Women must be 40 years or older

· Must not have insurance covering a mammogram annually

· Must be residing in Mecklenburg County, NC

· Must have a primary care provider

· Must be one year since previous mammogram

· Must not be pregnant or breast-feeding

· Must have no new breast lumps/concerns (patient should promptly contact their primary care physician if experiencing breast problems) or have pre-existing conditions

Charlotte Radiology urges women begin annual mammogram screenings at 40-years-old because 22 percent of cancers are diagnosed between the ages of 40-49. About 75 percent of breast cancer diagnoses are in women with no family history.

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