Thanks to the YWCA’s Encoreplus program, that’s no longer a problem.

“We provide breast health education and awareness throughout the community, but we also provide access to free screening services, including clinical breast exams, pap tests and mammograms for women ages 40-64, who are lower income without insurance,” said Andi Kohlmeyer, Women’s Health Coordinator for the YWCA.  

Breast cancer risk may increase with age, so it’s especially important for women over 40 to be checked, experts say.

“To find out if they qualify for the free services, they need to call — we also have a Spanish speaking line,” Kohlmeyer said. “We go over a few questions, and from there, the women are referred to local clinics and providers.”
Younger women are also served by the YWCA, under a different program.  

“We have some funds available for younger women who have a breast concern — it doesn’t hurt to call to see if there are resources available,” she noted.

The Encloreplus service is supported by community partners Oregon Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, the Avon Foundation Breast Care Fund and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

“We’ll raise funds this year through our upcoming Discover Pink Walk for Breast Cancer,”

Signups for the 3rd Annual Discover Pink Walk, to be held October 6 in Salem, are taking place now.
“Last year nearly 500 people attended,” she said, “and we expect more this year. We just opened registration, and signups are already coming in.”
The Walk kicks off National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and begins at 9 a.m. at Wilson Park, 775 Court St. NE in downtown Salem.

“It’s a 2-mile walk, so it’s accessible,” Kohlmeyer said. “That was something that was important to us — that anyone can participate, whether they’re going through cancer treatment, or have a small child or are pushing a stroller, or if they are being pushed in a wheelchair.”

The cost is $15 for adults, $10 for youth ages 12-17, and free for kids 11 and under; paying walkers will receive a free T-shirt. The band Liquid Assets will play and there will be sponsors booths plus refreshments.

For more information on free women’s health screenings, or to register for the Discover Pink Walk, call (503) 581-9922 ext. 128; for Spanish, ext. 120.

Sara Wiseman owns Wiseman Creative, a Salem marketing and public relations firm. Contact her