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Moonlight Mammograms returns for three nights

Going into its third year, Northern Inyo Healthcare District’s Moonlight Mammograms is once again expanding, adding a third night to the annual extended hours breast cancer screening program.

By getting a yearly mammogram starting at age 40, women who may have breast cancer can have it detected while it is in its earliest, most treatable stages. NIHD recognizes that for some women, the biggest challenge to getting a mammogram is time constraints.

Set for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 23, 24 and 25, 4-8 p.m., NIHD’s Moonlight Mammograms offers after-hours digital mammography, making the cancer screening process more convenient for women.

“It’s been proven time and time again that early detection saves lives,” said Rosie Graves, NIHD’s Patient Navigator. “Our goal with Moonlight Mammograms is to make breast cancer screening more accessible to women who may not be able to get away for appointments during regular daytime hours. It’s really that simple, and the response we’ve had over the last two years shows the women are embracing the program.”

In its first year, the event was held on a single night and surpassed the expectations of NIHD officials drawing 18 women for screening. NIHD screened 16 of the 18 that evening with the remaining two rescheduled for following days. For the second year, NIHD added an additional night, testing a grand total of 64 women over the two nights and an extra morning of appointments.

“We honestly don’t know how many to expect with a third evening, but we are prepared,” Graves explained. “If ladies arrive and the wait is longer than they intended on staying for, we do have daytime appointments set aside that we can book them into right there and then.”

Taking its cue from much of what NIHD is steadily becoming known for, Moonlight Mammogram is another NIHD team production involving participants from across the district, including Diagnostic Imaging, Rehabilitation Services, Dietary, The Rural Health Clinic, and Community Outreach services. “The real heroes, without argument, are our Mammographers,” Graves said. “Without them graciously re-arranging their work schedules for those three days, we wouldn’t be able to serve this segment of our community.”

Educational speakers this year will include Dr. Stuart Souders, NIHD’s Breast Radiologist, answering questions about mammography and cancer detection. Denice Hynd, one of NIHD’s Registered Dietitians, will discuss the role of nutrition in breast cancer treatment and in overall wellness.

Laura Molnar, one of NIHD’s Physical Therapists and Certified Lymphedema Specialist, will be available to answer questions about one of cancer’s lasting effects, lymphedema, or the swelling of arms and legs following the removal of lymph nodes. Jennifer Joos, a Physician’s Assistant from The Rural Health Clinic, will discuss the importance of self-breast exams.

Also, video recordings on many breast cancer-related topics featuring Hynd, Molnar, Breast Radiologist Chivonne Harrigal, and NIHD Breast Surgeon Jay Harness will be available. All videos, except for those featuring Dr. Harness, were filmed and edited by Bishop Union High School media arts students.

The evening comes with some pampering as well. Light massage treatments will be offered. Local musicians will set a relaxing mood. Refreshments will be served, and every woman will leave with a goodie bag. Interpreters will be on hand for Spanish-speaking guests.

During Moonlight Mammograms, no appointment is necessary. This event is for annual screenings only. Women participating may use their insurance benefits, or for those paying without insurance, a reduced price is offered through NIHD’s WeCare program. Participants must be one year and one day past their last mammogram. Those with questions about insurance qualifications, financial assistance, or even the date of their last mammogram, may call (760) 873-2155 for details.