HARRISBURG, Pa. (ErieNewsNow) - Each October at the State Capitol, the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition (PBCC) hosts its annual “Pink Fountain Event” to kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Due to rain, today’s event was held inside instead of the regular venue outside next to the fountain. However, some rain did not deter dozens of advocates, survivors, and family members from showing up today, in pink. Though the skies were overcast, the message was clear.  

“Schedule those mammograms if you're 40 and up,” said Jennifer Pensinger, the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition. “I want to encourage all women, if they haven't scheduled a mammogram for this year, to go and get that,” she added. 

Pensinger says regardless of family history, screening for breast cancer is extremely important and it’s now easier than ever before.  

“Across the state, there's all different health systems, a lot of them have dedicated lines for their breast centers. We want to encourage women to look local,” said Pensinger. 

Early detection can make all the difference, and health officials recommend women over 40 schedule a mammogram each year. 

“Screening early for breast cancer is critical to the survival and positive outcomes of the clients who develop breast cancer,” said Cindy Findley, Deputy Secretary of the PA Department of Health. “These screenings include 3D and digital mammograms, ultrasounds, MRI’s, PAP tests, HPV tests as well as several diagnostic procedures,” Findley added. 

“Breast cancer is among the most pervasive yet preventable forms of cancer,” said State Representative Patty Kim (D-Dauphin). “It is increasingly important to raise awareness every day, but especially this month of October,” Rep. Kim added. 

For those under-insured or uninsured, there are over 200 health care providers around the state that offer free cancer screening as part of the PA Department of Health's Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.  

“Since the program was implemented in 1994, hundreds of health care providers throughout Pennsylvania have screened over 105,000 women and diagnosed close to 5,000 breast and cervical cancers,” said Findley. 

Advocates like Pensinger hope that additional resources and awareness will encourage those who’ve been putting off a screening to get one on the calendar. Data from last year showed a decrease in the number of women going for annual mammograms due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. This year, Pensinger says the numbers are back up, but there’s still much work to be done. 

"We are hearing that facilities are safe and that more women are coming back and getting those yearly screenings that they need,” said Pensinger. 

The pink fountain at the Capitol will last throughout October as a physical reminder.

“It is an actual physical reminder to women to get their mammograms and that early detection saves lives,” said Pensinger.