Each day in San Diego, six women will find out they have breast cancer. But on Wednesday, the San Diego Chargers continued their fight against the disease.
For the fourth straight year, the Chargers partnered with Susan G. Komen San Diego to provide clinical breast exams and mammograms to underinsured and uninsured women in the county. While the detection stats in San Diego are startling, if caught early, those diagnosed have a 99% survival rate.
Since October is breast cancer awareness month, Wednesday kicked off the team's dedication to bringing awareness to a disease that affects so many.
"The ultimate goal of the weekend is to push the message of early detection (because) early detection leads to a higher rate of survival," said A.G. Spanos, Chargers President – Business Operations. "Pushing early detection started eight years ago with the NFL's A Crucial Catch campaign where the players wore pink on the field and raised awareness of breast cancer screenings. Our mobile mammography event is the next step in that evolution. We are providing access to women who aren't insured or might not have been screened in over a year so they can have a chance for early detection."
"It's the fourth year that the Chargers have opened up Qualcomm Stadium to provide San Diego women with free mammograms," said Laura Farmer Sherman, President and CEO of Susan G. Komen San Diego. "The Chargers' brand and power is remarkable. Over this four-year period, we've almost provided 1,000 mammograms and a good 10% of those are diagnosed in (breast cancer's) earliest stages. Hundreds of women will come here today and lives will be saved."
In 2015, the Chargers and Komen provided 236 mammograms to women and even three men. About 10% of those screened were diagnosed, and all are alive today.
"I know what it's like to hear the words, 'you have cancer,'" Farmer Sherman added. "I can't imagine what it would be like to hear those words and to know that you don't have any money in your pocket, you might lose your job, or you might not have enough money to take care of your kids. If you are diagnosed in San Diego at this event, we're not going to let you go. We are going to be with you every step of the way."
The Chargers were the first team in the NFL to honor breast cancer awareness month with this unique campaign and the reason was near and dear to the organization's heart. Susie Spanos, wife of Chargers Chairman of the Board Dean Spanos, is a breast cancer survivor. According to A.G. Spanos, having first-hand experience with the disease, his mother has made it her mission to help those in need.
"It's a cause that's very close to our organization and our family in particular because my mother is a breast cancer survivor. She feels compelled to spread the message about early detection because it is so critical."
The Chargers and Susan G. Komen of San Diego teamed up for the annual mobile mammography screening event.