FARMINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Every year, the third Friday in October is National Mammography Day, a reminder that early detection is the best defense against the disease. To mark the occasion, UConn Health held a special all-day event about the importance of screenings. 

According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. Overall, the average risk is about 13%.

Kim Hamilton is a survivor. She was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer 15 years ago.

“I was 37, so fairly young with small children, so it was scary at first,” she said.

That diagnosis changed her life, including her career path.

“The cancer diagnosis made me step back and say, ‘Does this make me happy?’ and that’s when I decided I was going to go into the world of cancer and help other people through it,” Hamilton told News 8.

Hamilton now works at UConn Health as a community outreach and engagement coordinator. On National Mammography Day, UConn Health held an all-day event to emphasize the importance of annual mammograms, which often detect a problem before any physical sign.

Jessica Santos-Martinez is a program coordinator at UConn Health.

“The guidelines do recommend women ages 40 years and older get these done annually, but nonetheless, if you are younger but have a significant family history, we ask that you also speak with your provider,” Santos-Martinez said.

Patients were offered information, resources, refreshments, and pink ribbons at Friday’s event.

“I know patients get concerned when they have to get a callback and hope nothing is found,” nurse navigator Evelyn Wong told News 8. “But they have to do their due diligence and make sure that whatever they see, make sure that it’s nothing, and if it’s something, we’ll take care of them.” 

For those who may be hesitant or put off making that appointment, Hamilton said it could save your life.

For help obtaining a mammogram, visit the state’s website or call 860-509-7804.