Tori Sutton, Stratford Gazette
A special tour bus rolled into Stratford Friday, but it wasn’t carrying tourists.
The city was of more than 90 stops across the province for The Pink Tour, a Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation initiative to increase awareness about the disease.
The big pink bus – covered with over 20,000 signatures of people who have come out to learn more about breast cancer – made stops at both CIBC on Downie Street and Shoppers Drug Mart on Ontario Street.
“We set out with a goal of having 30,000 people go through the bus and we’ve already had 27,000 and we’re about three-quarters of the way through,” said Andrew Noble, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation senior manager of policy and advocacy.
“The response has been very positive.”
Visitors are able to hop on the bus to watch video, take an interactive quiz and ask questions of the knowledgeable on board ambassadors.
It also offers eligible women a chance to sign up the spot for a mammogram through the Ontario Breast Screening Program.
By doing so, the foundation hopes to boost the number of women currently participating in the program, which offers mammograms at accredited sites, ongoing communication and expert guidance to assist with suspicious test results.
Only about 42 per cent of eligible women in Ontario are taking part.
“We would like to increase that number,” Noble said.
Everywhere the bus has stoped – from southern Ontario to the far north – women have been eager to share their stories, whether it be a fight against breast cancer, their experiences in the breast screening program or general comments about breast health.
“It’s been very valuable,” he said. “We’re finding out what’s on their minds.”
The bus has also been attracting men, who often climb on in support of their wives, only to learn a bit about their own bodies.
“It’s very rare, but men can get breast cancer,” Noble said, noting the risk is small as men only account for about one per cent of cases. “A lot of men don’t even know they can get breast cancer at all.”
Most of all, it’s important people realize the importance of breast screening and the impact it has had on survival rates, he said.
Since organized screening programs were introduced in the last 1980s, breast cancer mortality has been reduced by more than 35 per cent.
After leaving Stratford, the bus was headed to its next stop in Guelph.