Feb. 1, 2017 | The UAMS Mobile Mammography Program recently received a lift from FIS, its newest partner, in the form of a $25,000 gift. For many members of the FIS campus leadership committee, which presented the gift, it is an intensely personal one.
“If you pick anybody off the street from here or this region, and ask them how cancer has impacted their life, odds are very high that they’ve got a connection with UAMS,” said Joel Wheelis, FIS group executive. “It becomes very personal very quickly.”
Fidelity National Information Services Inc., better known by the abbreviation FIS, is an international provider of financial services technology and outsourcing services.
The UAMS MammoVan visited the FIS campus in Little Rock on Jan. 18. There, members of the FIS campus leadership committee presented the $25,000 check to Sharp Malak, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Mobile Mammography Program in the Department of Radiology of the UAMS College of Medicine.
“We’re extremely grateful for this gift because it allows us to serve even more women in rural Arkansas,” Malak said. “Where you live should not determine if you live.”
The gift supports the Mobile Mammography Program, which recently acquired a second MammoVan. The funds from FIS will help refurbish the original MammoVan, which should be operational again in March, Malak said.
The MammoVan regularly travels across Arkansas to provide digital screening mammograms and breast care education. The three-room mobile unit is outfitted with the most advanced digital mammography equipment and is staffed by a certified mammography technologist and a technical assistant.
“Having a second vehicle, we’ll go to some places and be there for days at a time, not only to be in that community but to establish a presence there,” Malak said.
“Women who aren’t near a mammography facility are less likely to get a mammogram, but it doesn’t change their risk of getting breast cancer,” Malak said. “The MammoVan also reduces the financial barrier many women face in seeking breast health services.”
The MammoVan staff partners with community-based organizations, community health centers, work-site wellness locations and others to provide services for women in the towns where the MammoVan visits. The program also guides patients who receive an abnormal screening result through follow-up diagnostic mammography, biopsy and referral to breast oncologic services.
“For rural Arkansas, it’s really a phenomenal way to reach out and help people who might not get that help otherwise,” Wheelis said.
Wheelis knows the value of early detection: it helped save his mother’s life.
Janice Wheelis is a 30-year breast cancer survivor, and was treated at UAMS all those years ago by Kent C. Westbrook, M.D., distinguished professor in the UAMS College of Medicine. During a group tour of the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute late last year, Wheelis had a chance meeting with Dr. Westbrook.
“It really choked me up a bit to see him,” Wheelis said. “Dr. Westbrook and Dr. Laura Hutchins are held in extremely high regard in our family.”
Wheelis’ grandmother did not have the benefit of early detection, and died relatively young from breast cancer. His aunt and cousin, however, have both benefited.
“I truly understand how differently the scenario can play out depending on early detection,” Wheelis said.
Other members of the FIS campus leadership committee, like Susan Nichols, senior legal counsel, were also extremely impressed with the Cancer Institute.
Nichols was treated at UAMS for skin cancer years ago.
“I was incredibly impressed with everybody I came in contact with, and of course the facilities are beautiful,” Nichols said. “The layout and décor makes it so comfortable for patients and their families. It definitely brings down your stress level.”
“This gift to the mobile mammography program not only represents FIS, but the community at large,” Wheelis said. “Our people really have a heart for giving, and we’re very, very happy to be involved and engaged in any way we can.”