CHASS invests $750K to help women in southwest Detroit get mammograms

Posted at 6:32 AM, Jun 06, 2023

DETROIT, MI (WXYZ) — Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women in the United States following only skin cancer. Thankfully, with a push for widespread screening and early intervention, the rate of breast cancer deaths has been declining.

Nonetheless, access to that crucial early care has not been made available across the board. But, now thanks to Community Health and Social Services Center often referred to as CHASS, this vital preventive care is coming to southwest Detroit.

"I found a lump in my breast myself," Lynda Stevenson said. And that is what started her journey of fighting and overcoming breast cancer.

"I broke down and cried. After, I pulled myself together. I asked them straight out, 'What are we going to do about this?'," Stevenson said.

Stevenson fought through chemo, surgery, and radiation. Now, she's at CHASS in southwest Detroit for her annual checkup with the center's new mammogram machine. CHASS' president says for reluctant patients it has been a game changer.

"I brought them over to see and they say, okay, I'm going to get it done because you have it here in the community," Dr. Felix Valbuena said.

Dr. Valbuena says roughly 63% of CHASS' eligible female patients received mammograms last year. This year the goal is 80%.

Dr. Valbuena also notes that 70% of patients here prefer to speak Spanish over English so providing preventative services locally and in a culturally relevant way removes barriers and saves lives.

"They don't have to navigate a big hospital setting where they don't necessarily understand the language and then the parking situation. And it's overwhelming sometimes for patients," Dr. Valbuena said.

Conducting mammograms in the community also reduces transportation challenges and removing these barriers can save the life of the patient and change the lives of those that love her through early detection and intervention.

"Being able to cure it, take care of it so it's cured, goes much, much further and much beyond the actual individual, but it encompasses the whole family," Dr. Valbuena said.

It took three years to raise the money to lease the roughly $750,000 piece of equipment. It's run in partnership with Henry Ford Health who help with maintenance and meeting state and federal guidelines.

CHASS doesn't turn anyone away regardless of the ability to pay.

Stevenson's advice, know your body, watch for changes and find a medical home and form a lasting trusting relationship.

"I'm coming to the same people who care for me, the same people who looked after me in my time of need," she said.

CHASS only performs screenings. Patients are then referred to Henry Ford Health if the findings warrant a closer look.