The Clara Bus will offer mobile breast cancer screening for eligible women 50 – 69 years old in Mistissini, Waswanipi, and Oujé-Bougoumou through the month of June.
The 2021 Clara Bus breast cancer screening tour successfully kicked off in March, seeing clients from Eastmain, Wemindji, Chisasibi, and Whapmagoostui. The tour will continue to three inland communities, beginning in Mistissini on June 1.
The Clara Bus is planned to reach Waskaganish and Waswanipi in the fall.
Promotion of this year’s tour is in proud partnership with the Cree Women of Eeyou Istchee Association (CWEIA).
The Clara Bus mobile mammogram unit, operated by the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ), has been serving remote areas of the by road since 2002. Eeyou Istchee has been part of the program since 2005. On average, more than 700 women in Eeyou Istchee have a mammogram on the Clara Bus, which is one of the best early detection methods for breast cancer.
"The setup is exactly the same as at other hospitals and clinics across Canada” - Karina Olivier, Senior Technologist for Clinical Screening Services at the INSPQ
Breast cancer screening is by appointment only. Every 2 years, women aged 50 – 69 receive a letter from the Public Health Department of Cree Health Board, inviting them to be screened for breast cancer. These women will be able to call their local Chishaayiyuu CHRs to schedule an appointment.
“This makes the service much more accessible, since we don’t have any mammography machines in the area.” - Irene Chu, CBHSSJB Nurse Counsellor for Chronic Diseases
This year’s tour is especially important given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. By having the option to be screened in their home community, women will not need to travel off-territory for screening. This reduces travel and the potential need to quarantine upon returning home from a screening appointment. All COVID-19 precautionary measures will be followed to keep everyone safe.
Important improvements have also been made to ensure the best possible experience in this year’s screening tour. Women will have longer appointment slots and more time with the technicians to ensure they understand what is going on and can feel comfortable. Cree CHRs conduct medical questionnaires with the women and can accompany them on the bus or offer translation services if needed.
Pictured is Laura Ann Georgekish, CHR Chayo in Wemindji.
The Public Health Department of the Cree Health Board recommends that all eligible women between ages 50-69 be screened about every 2 years. If you are between the ages of 35 and 49 and have a family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer, ask your doctor about the best screening options for you. Remember that breast cancer screening is a personal choice and there are both pros and cons to be aware of.
Watch Georgina and Nancy’s stories below to learn about potential harms and benefits of breast cancer screening:
To learn more, please contact your local Chishaayiyuu CHR.