Saving a life stop by stop

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Normally Johanna Abourezk is a busy mom, running around taking care of her three daughters, always putting her family first.

While the Arvada mom dedicated her time and energy to her family, her own health and well-being was overlooked. Soon she realized she hadn’t had a mammogram in more than five years.

During a visit to University of Colorado Hospital’s Family Medicine clinic in Westminster with her daughter, Abourezk noticed a sign about Pink Life Saver, a mobile mammography van.

The van is parked every week at University of Colorado Hospital clinics in the Denver metro area offering quick 20-minute mammograms with no appointment necessary. Abourezk was immediately interested and booked an appointment for the next day. Little did she know that her appointment would be life-changing.

“I’m so busy, but at the time my kids were on Christmas break, so I had the time,” she said. “My appointment was on Jan. 3 and by Jan. 15 I was officially diagnosed with breast cancer. Everything’s happened so fast, it’s really been a whirlwind.”

Abourezk wasn’t extremely surprised by the news, she said, since she is 48, and it’s been so long since her last mammogram. She admits if she wouldn’t have scheduled her appointment in January, it could have been months until her next mammogram.

She said the convenience of the Pink Life Saver mobile van made is an easy decision to finally put herself first. But now mom is the one being taken care of by her husband Cory Abourezk and her daughters.

“I’m temporarily on a hiatus from work for the next six to nine months to try and help out with being Mr. Mom,” said Cory Abourezk. “It’s a harder job that I had at work. It’s a hard job.”

Abourezk is now undergoing a 20-week chemotherapy treatment. After that, she plans to get a double mastectomy. Although she’s still wrapping her head around the news, she said she’s coping with her new life challenge with her sense of humor. She said she laughs a lot with her husband, whom she’s been married to for 28 years.

“We are goofballs,” she said. “He’s always made me laugh, and we laugh a lot with our kids. I say things like ‘well I better get smaller boobs and weight-loss out of this’ that kind of goofy stuff. That’s just how I’m dealing with this.”

Abourezk is also spreading the word about the Pink Life Safe mobile van. She keeps appointment cards in her car and passes them around to her neighbors and friends. She said with the convenience of the van, there’s no excuse for women not to get their mammograms.

“I guess I’m getting personal,” she said. “But it’s so important to for women to get their mammograms every year. I don’t care how they get here, as long as they get here.”

The Pink Life Saver van was made possible through two major donations, one made by the Men for the Cure for $185,000 and the other from King Soopers for $100,000. For more information on the Pink Life Saver van or to make an appointment visit, www.PinkLifeSaver.com.