Buddy Check 7: Program encourages you to know your numbers - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Buddy Check 7: Program encourages you to know your numbers

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Studies show that being physically fit can improve your chances of avoiding cancer and fighting it should you get diagnosed.  And there's a program in eastern Iowa helping to educate and empower women to do just that.

Lela Blackmon of Waterloo is getting to know her numbers, from body fat to blood pressure.  The free "Know Your Numbers" health assessment is just one part of the Northeast Iowa Breast Cancer Screening Project.  Women also learn the right way to do self breast exams and tips for improving their overall health picture.

"It makes me aware of what's going on with my body.  So, therefore, I can work to try to do what I can to maintain a healthy body," said Blackmon.

The assessments are offered through a partnership between the Black Hawk County YWCA, People's Community Health Clinic, and the Black Hawk County Health Department, funded by an Avon Foundation for Women grant.  And it's the only project of its kind in Iowa.

"Often times, there are a number of barriers for a woman to get regular breast screenings so we try to address those through education and awareness.  If they're in need of services and don't have the means to pay, we assist with that.  Sometimes, it's a transportation barrier.  Sometimes it's just not making their priorities the highest priority in the family unit and we work to educate them about why getting checked out is so important," said Eileen Daley with the Black Hawk County Health Department.

In the past four years, the program has reached more than 5,000 women like Blackmon.  1300 women have also been linked to clinical services, ranging from physician referrals to mammogram screenings.

"Knowledge is power, and so we always want women to be more knowledgeable about their health and to take responsibility for their overall well being," Daley said.

That gives women the best shot at both preventing and fighting cancer.

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