“Grab your girls” and get screened!

The American Cancer Society is launching a new campaign called, “Grab Your Girls” that encourages women to hold each other accountable for getting screened for breast cancer by making it a group activity.

There is a real energy to get back into social settings coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Dr. Arif Kamal, American Cancer Society’s Chief Patient Officer.
So, the hope is to make sure people see that cancer screening is another activity people can do together and be part of a community.

There are potential anxieties attached to getting mammograms. Kamal said women may have a ton of questions and concerns swirling around their brains. “What if I go and how do I logistically get it done?” “How does it get paid for?” “What if they find something I wasn’t expecting?”

He said all of that can be anxiety-provoking, so it’s helpful to have other people around you.

So, the “Grab Your Girls” campaign encourages women to grab their friends, sisters, mothers, aunts--all their girls over 45, and make sure they get their mammograms by scheduling a group screening day.

Take it a step further. Kamal said whether you’re all in the same town or live across the country, just pick a date, and call your doctor. Then that night, get a Zoom call with each other, enjoy some cocktails, and discuss each other’s mammogram experience.

“That’s really important because a cancer diagnosis doesn’t just affect the person who has it. It affects their community and their family members, and that means that preventing that cancer should also be a social, community event too, so everyone is on the same page. So, they don’t have to have those difficult conversations down the road. We can get that stuff taken care of early when we find it,” Kamal said.

Women are typically very social creatures, Kamal said. So, together, they often feel like they can solve any issue that comes up.

For some women, it could be about money. “How do I pay for it?”

Well, if you grab your girls and get this group of women together, most likely someone else is going to be in the same boat as you, he said. From there, they problem-solve and come up with solutions that they may not have thought of, and this brings a sense of accomplishment and determination.

Kamal said if something is found during a breast cancer screening that was not expected, the emotional support is so helpful to then say, let’s get a plan together and figure this out.

Having cheerleaders behind the affected person is so important during the cancer journey of a person’s diagnosis.

Kamal said as an oncologist, it worries him when a patient comes to an appointment alone.

“I really worry about who is there to pep them up, to remind them of appointments, to tell them you can do this and get through it. That ends up being so important to people’s outcomes during a cancer journey. When you have close people around you, those people absolutely do better than those people who go through the journey alone,” Kamal said.

Women can empower and influence friends and family to get back to their breast cancer screenings.

Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at jennifer.ursillo@townsquaremedia.com

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