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JORDAN VALLEY, Ore. -- Did you know Idaho ranks last when it comes to women over 40 getting mammograms?

That's troubling enough, but consider this, women in rural Idaho are least likely to get their mammograms and most likely to discover breast cancer in its later stages.

Both St. Alphonsus and St.Luke s are working hard to change that.

Mobile mammography units now travel the back roads of Idaho and Eastern Oregon.

Owyhee County is rural and remote. For miles around there are homesteads and ranches. The closest town is Jordan Valley where you'll find a good cup of coffee and fresh cinnamon rolls, schools, and all the small town amenities, even a health clinic open half a day every Wednesday.

There are no breast clinics or mammography centers here except when the big pink bus rolls into town.

A friend of mine came to the house yesterday and says 'I've got the phone number for the mammogram - call 'em! said Kathy Madariaga on how she heard about the big pink bus. I never actually knew when they were coming and didn't have the phone number, and she gave me that information so that's what helped.

It's been five years since she's had a mammogram.

She joins 15-20 other women who will take advantage of the convenience of the St. Al's mobile mammography unit right in their rural neighborhood.

I live in Arock. I drove for 45 minutes to get here, otherwise I'd have to drive for two hours to get to Nampa or Boise or Caldwell. You know, and this is really handy, said Joy Macdiarmid who hasn't had a breast cancer screening since 1999.

Mammographers Kelli Wiley and Anna Bossard travel to rural destinations every Monday through Friday to screen women like Madariaga and Macdiarmid.

You get a lot of job satisfaction in this job knowing that you're going to make a difference in someone life every single day you go to work. I mean that's pretty powerful I think, Bossard said.

Powerful because about 1-in-8 women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives and catching it early makes all the difference.

Wiley says, With the digital mammography, it is a lot more capable of showing really small micro classifications and catching the breast cancer in the very earliest stages before you would ever feel a lump or show any signs on the outside.

Sheryl Anderson works at the little clinic that is only open on Wednesdays. She's getting screened too because she's seen for herself what the mobile unit has done for her small town.

We've had several people within our tiny community in the last couple of years that came and got their mammogram and were diagnosed with breast cancer, said Anderson. Within our little community, it saved lives. That's how important it is.

If you live in a rural area and would like the mobile mammography unit to come to your neck of the woods, you can call St. Alphonsus at 208-367-3571 for more information.

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