HAUPPAUGE, Long Island (WABC) -- Breast Cancer Awareness Month kicked off Friday, October 1, and women gathered at an event on Long Island to discuss the hard truth that many women have put off mammograms due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The price of that is expected to be huge, with experts bracing for a surge in breast cancer cases over the next few years.
Valerie Mortimer, of Northport, is now battling her second bout of Stage 4 breast cancer. She is urging women to get their annual mammogram.
"If you get cancer when it's small and cancer when it's little, you will just have that one time like bout with it," she said.
Mortimer spoke at Suffolk County's kick off to Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Hauppague on Friday.
"Schedule your mammogram," was the very simple message Pat Bishop Kelly, with the American Cancer Society, had for attendees.
It's predicted that in the next 10 years, more women will die of breast cancer because they forwent their annual screening during COVID.
It's estimated millions of women across the country are overdue for their mammogram.
Most women ages 40 and older are eligible to have a mammogram, and Mortimer said women shouldn't be scared of getting one.
She said it's important women find out if they have breast cancer, because the earlier it's caught, the easier it is to treat.
"Don't be afraid," she said. "Get chemo. You'll lose your hair. It's not pretty, but you'll get it behind you."
Good Samaritan Hospital's Women's Imaging Center in West Islip is offering free mammograms for uninsured women between the ages of 40 and 64 on Sunday, October 10.
Call 631-376-4444 for an appointment.
If you would like to show your support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, you can participate in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer on Long Island Walk at Jones Beach Sunday October 17.
You can also buy a pink pumpkin at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Garden City on Saturday, October 16, to raise money for the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline and Support Group.
Franklin Square resident Diane Turcic has been sponsoring the event for the last 10 years.
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