Great Mills High School Boys' Lacrosse Team Thinks Pink

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St. Mary’s County’s local youth athletes have pitched in to support a community health program and are thinking pink. 

The Great Mills High School boys’ lacrosse team adopted the Pink Ribbon Project as its fundraiser for the 2009 season and is wearing pink shoelaces during the games to draw awareness to breast cancer. The team is also collecting money at home games and private donations throughout the season through game night sponsors and change buckets. So far about $1,350 has been raised for the cause.  
The Pink Ribbon Project provides free breast exams and mammograms for eligible St. Mary’s County residents based on certain income guidelines, who are under 40, have an abnormal lump or concern in or near the breast, or have a sister or mother who was diagnosed with breast cancer before menopause. 
The project was created through a $10,000 grant awarded to St. Mary’s Hospital and the Women’s Wellness Program from the Maryland Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Arturo Leon, head coach of the Great Mills High School boys’ lacrosse team, said the team became involved in the project because “we wanted to raise awareness of breast cancer and to show that guys play an important part in supporting the women in their life affected by breast cancer.”
Game night sponsors have included a local business, a breast cancer survivor and a non-profit sports organization. Team families will sponsor an upcoming game. The Great Mills High School girls’ lacrosse team and the Chopticon High School boys’ lacrosse team are also raising money for the cause.   
Tami Gaido, hospital health educator, Women’s Wellness case manager and registered nurse, said this program is important because there are state and federal programs that assist low-income women in need of a breast and cervical screening for ages 40 to 64, but nothing has been available for women younger than 40.
Gaido stressed seeking the exam only if a person meets the grant’s criteria. Unnecessary mammograms before the age of 40 do have a risk from additional radiation exposure. Routine mammogram screening begins at the age of 40 as a woman’s risk of breast cancer increases.
Screenings are available now and will continue until the money runs out. Gaido said about one-fifth of the original grant money has been used so far. The program can include a free breast exam and mammogram. A sonogram and surgical consult can also be arranged if needed. The grant does not cover surgery, but she said there are other programs available, such as the Diagnosis and Treatment Program through the state of Maryland, and she will assist women with that application if more care is needed.
The American Cancer Society estimated that in 2008, approximately 3,670 Maryland women would be diagnosed with breast cancer and 830 would die from the disease. Maryland ranks fifth in the nation for breast cancer death rates, according to the State Cancer Profiles. 

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