Community Family Health

Mammograms’ Ability to Save Lives Focus of New Awareness Campaign


A mammogram can be the difference between someone losing their life and detecting early signs of breast cancer in order to prevent it from spreading. However, there is inequal access to the screenings; something a local nonprofit organization is attempting to correct with a public health awareness campaign.

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A mammogram can be the difference between detecting the early signs of breast cancer and someone losing their life to the disease, which is the most common cancer in women.

According to the American Cancer Society, women between the ages of 40 and 44 should have the option to start an annual mammogram screening and women ages 45 to 54 should get a mammogram every year.

But not everyone has equal access to a mammographic screening, particularly within the LGBT community, research shows.

A Mammogram Can Be A Lifesaver is a local awareness campaign started by the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown which is focused on increasing mammography rates in the Lehigh Valley. The campaign is funded by Women’s 5K Classic and the Network for the National Library of Medicine.

According to Bradbury-Sullivan, only about 5 percent of women nationwide have never had a mammogram. In Pennsylvania, the campaign cites statistics that show higher percentages of the LGBT community without the same preventive care: 20 percent of all LGBT people eligible for mammograms have never had one, for example, while 45 percent of transgender Pennsylvanians have never had a mammographic screening.

Kimberly Levitt, Health Programs and Supportive Services Manager at Bradbury-Sullivan, said everyone should be aware of the process for receiving a mammogram. 

“We’re just trying to get the word out and educate those who are eligible about resources, specific screening locations and that these screening locations that we’re offering are affirming spaces for LGBT people and they’re safe,” she said.

Levitt said Bradbury-Sullivan partnered with Eastern Monroe Public Library, Memorial Library of Nazareth & Vicinity, Kutztown Community Library and Emmaus Public Library for the campaign, with each library scheduled to host a one-hour online presentation as part of it.

She said these information sessions provide resources and educate the public about some of the barriers to mammography revealed in the statistics the center has compiled.

Keri Pennypacker, facilitator of the Lehigh Valley Lesbians group, said this campaign is particularly important to her, since her wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in August.


Research shows troubling disparities between mammogram access for women overall and members of the LGBTQ community.

She stressed that a mammogram alone doesn’t guarantee prevention. In fact, her wife’s cancer wasn’t detected through a mammogram. However, Pennypacker said prioritizing women’s health means ensuring that everyone is able to take care of their breast health through equal access to preventive services such as mammograms.

“My wife easily could have not found her cancer or could have ignored it, because she thought it was nothing and it was a lot more than that,” Pennypacker said.

Reilly Callahan–Health, Outreach & Support Services Coordinator for the Bradbury-Sullivan center–said she leads the webinars and the information presented in them is applicable to anyone, not just the LGBT community.

She said it’s shocking how great the disparity is between mammographic screening rates for the general population and the LGBT community.

Callahan said a Black woman is less likely to get mammographic screenings than a white woman and a lesbian woman is less likely to receive a mammogram than a straight woman.

She said LGBT community members are also more likely to participate in activities that put them at a higher risk for cancer, such as use of tobacco products.

“It’s this mind-boggling thing to me that (in) a community where you have higher rates of cancer, (there are) lower rates of screening,” Callahan said. “If somebody is having more issues, then they should be getting more help for it. But it’s the opposite.”

The first free webinar was held Jan. 20 at Eastern Monroe Public Library.

The next one will be hosted by Kutztown Community Library on Monday, Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. RSVP and get the login information for it by emailing ku**********@gm***.com. Live closed captioning will be available for this virtual event.

Other dates and times for the campaign’s webinars are as follows:

  • Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 5:30 p.m. with the Lehigh Valley Lesbians Community Group. RSVP and get the log-in information by emailing Re****@br********************.org
  • Monday, March 8, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. with Emmaus Public Library. RSVP and get the login information by emailing ep***********@cl**.org or calling 610-965-9284. Live closed captioning will be available at this virtual event.
  • Monday, March 15, 2021 at 7 p.m. with Metropolitan Community Church Lehigh Valley. RSVP and get the login information by emailing Re****@br********************.org.

Callahan said the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center plans to schedule more webinars at other locations, with a goal of having eight to 10 discussions by April.

Levitt emphasized that mammograms are the most effective way to detect breast cancer early, and encouraged everyone to get one early if they are eligible.

“Research shows that individuals are more likely to fight or survive breast cancer if they were detected via a mammogram early,” she said.


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About the author

Josh Popichak

Josh Popichak is the owner, publisher and editor of Saucon Source. A Lehigh Valley native, he's covered local news since 2005 and previously worked for Berks-Mont News and AOL/Patch. Contact him at

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