In grandmother's honor, family works to eliminate reasons for not getting mammogram

Published: Sep. 7, 2017 at 12:23 PM CDT
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Early detection is key to stopping breast cancer in it's tracks. But, for women who can't get to a hospital due to time or travel constraints, there's a way to bring a mammogram to you.

Being able to make a doctor's appointment and travel to the hospital, is something that can be taken for granted.

After watching their own grandmother battle breast cancer, Bill Fonti and his family knew they wanted to help their community.

"Well the beauty of the mobile units is, it serves women throughout central and northern Wisconsin. So, these mobile units actually travel to where women are. And, instead of them traveling two hours to a clinic, we go to them,” explained Bill Fonti.

Now, 14 years strong, their "Fore a Cure" golf tournament has been able to fund three mobile mammography units that travel the state.

"We hear one story after the other, year after year, after year. Because I see the letters-- how important it was that that mobile unit visited their small town. Because, they went on the mobile unit and found out they had breast cancer, but we caught it early. Without it, some of these women said they would have never went in for a mammogram,” Bill Fonti recalled.

In 2016, the mobile units performed 5,700 mammograms, and detected 26 cases of breast cancer.

Through the their partnership with Marshfield Clinic, they've taken the units to almost all 72 counties across Wisconsin.

Jeff Starck is spokesman for Marshfield Clinic. He says the traveling units are very similar to visiting a doctor at the clinic.

"They have their own private changing area and area where they're examined. We have clinic licensed female technicians who meet with a patient, talk about their medical history, just like a normal visit. Go over any questions they have and then actually perform the mammogram,” Starck said.

He said the mobile units have a great impact on rural areas.

"A lot of people don't necessarily have the health care in their communities or they have to travel long distances and they can't necessarily leave their work place or make the drive to a larger city to get health care-- particularly a mammogram,” he said.

To date, the Fonti family has raised $1.6 million from the tournament. But, they're not stopping there.

They've also setup the Katherine Fonti Fund, named after their grandma.

"That fund is for females who can't afford a mammogram. Who falls within the crack the government doesn't take care of them. No insurance. So, Marshfield Clinic has that service to provide free mammograms, for women who can't afford one,” Bill said.

The mobile mammography units travel to businesses, communities, and just about any location where they know there's a need.