Metro Detroit woman encourages others to get screened after being diagnosed with breast cancer

A metro Detroit woman who was diagnosed with cancer is encouraging others to get screened after she delayed her yearly exams due to COVID.

As the COVID pandemic raged on, Willie Brown believed one way to avoid COVID infection was to avoid the doctor’s office and those yearly exams.

"I prolonged mine out of fear I was terrified," said Brown.

After nearly three years of not having a mammogram, she decided to go in and get one done. After getting screened, she learned she had cancer in her right breast.

"The earlier we find it the more options we have and the better outcome we see," said Henry Ford surgical breast oncologist Dr. Jessica Bensenhaver.

Henry Ford Health is participating in the Return to Screening Study. It’s a national effort that partners with agencies like the American Cancer Society with the goal of encouraging patients to resume routine cancer screenings.

"We did a lot of education and direct patient outreach telling them why it was safe, and important, looking at financials or transportation resources," said Henry Ford Health RN Donna Long.

At Henry Ford efforts were centered around breast cancer screenings among groups of African American and Hispanic women who were known to have lower mammography rates than other groups.

"Because of the delays in screenings that we’ve seen in the last 2 1/2 three years, it’s really hitting those populations harder," said Bensenhaver.

Doctors at Henry Ford say because of its participation in the Return to Screening program, their cancer team increased breast cancer screenings by 17% among African American women and 35% among Hispanic women in 2021.

Brown says cancer runs in her family.

"My mom died from it. Her sister died from it but guess what im not going to die from it," said Brown."We need to take this Breast cancer thing seriously. This is nothing to joke with you don’t have to die from it. Just get checked."

To learn more about the return to screening study and how you can get your mammogram click HERE.