SAN DIEGO - More than 90 uninsured women received free mammograms at Qualcomm Stadium Tuesday, courtesy of the San Diego Chargers and the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
The foundation told 10News this was the first event of its kind in San Diego and it exceeded all expectations, reaching full capacity within one hour.
Lizzie Cordova was one of the women who turned out in support. She lost her mother to breast cancer four years ago, but she says she still misses her best friend.
"I just miss my mom," said Cordova, through tears. "I recently got engaged and my mom is not going to be at my wedding. My mom is not going to meet her grandkids … she was an amazing mother but she would have been an even better grandma."
Her mother's cancer was so aggressive that her doctors only gave her a year to live. But with early cancer screening and intensive treatment, Cordova had another six years with her mother. That is why she says Tuesday's event is so important, and Susan G. Komen agrees.
"When it's caught in its earliest stages, breast cancer is 98 percent survivable," said Laura Farmer Sherman, the executive director of Susan G. Komen in San Diego. "But you need a mammogram to survive."
The Chargers underwrote the cost to provide the more than 90 women with free exams in a mobile unit and mammograms in nearby pink tents. The program also signs up each woman with a medical home that will follow up with them year after year.
"The mobile testing unit is a fully licensed doctor’s office on wheels," explained Ben Avey, who is with Family Health Centers of San Diego.
At least three women were already camped out at 6 a.m., well before the event started.
"Women just don't put themselves first," said Farmer Sherman. "If you don't have insurance a mammogram costs about $125. It doesn't sound like a lot, but it's a lot if you're struggling to put food on the table. We want women to put themselves first for once. Please put yourself first and be there for your children."
Cordova told 10News when she looked at the crowd of women who came out for testing Tuesday, it gave her hope.
"I had a lot of extra special memories because of my mom, because of Komen," said Cordova. 'It's extremely important and I know people are going to be saved because of this."
Susan G. Komen is holding at least 4 more free mammography and breast exam events this month.