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'Boob Bus' hopes to prevent breast cancer among Utah women

Posted at 4:26 PM, Feb 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-16 19:21:53-05

SALT LAKE CITY — No doubt about it, just by the name itself, the :Boob Bus" gets a lot of attention when it's seen on the roads of Utah.

Genetic counselor and co-founder of the "Boob Bus," Rena Vanzo, isn’t shy about her flashy new whip and she says that’s intentional.

“These are not things we should be bashful about. We need to be screening ourselves. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women in this country, and we want everybody to be screening. So I want it to be sort of in your face,” she said.

On Friday at the Maverik Center, the bus launched its one-of-a-kind mobile mammography, breast imaging services, and genetic testing.

With a 2023 study showing Utah one of the three lowest states for mammogram screenings, officials hoping to improve that number.

“I recently turned 40 years old and I know that 40 years old is the time when you're supposed to be thinking about obtaining a mammogram, and so I knew it was time for me to do this,” explained Becki Wright, a visitor to the bus.

It was Wright's first mammogram as she wanted to avoid long wait times in busy hospitals.

“When I saw the 'Boob Bus,' I was really excited to see that it could be a low stress environment, really thoughtful of like individualized, personalized experience and excited to be here and do it,” she said.

The worry is that many women put off getting a mammogram due to fear or anxiety.

"So we've made a lot of places inside the bus, more spa-like where it's a little bit more inviting,” explained Vanzo.

Wright herself said she would have probably delayed getting a check up if it weren’t for a good friend being recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

“She doesn't have any family history and when she found that, it was a huge wake up call to me to say, like, this is an important thing just to do our regular checkups to get in there, get it done and do it in a way that’s really easy,” said Wright.

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, meaning most people have a connection to the deadly disease.

Vanzo's own grandmother was a major part of her inspiration for the bus.

“So I actually have a cartoon icon of her on the bus with her actual signature that says, 'love always, Doris Jean,' so she's always with me, helping fight breast cancer among other women,” Vanzo shared.

Doris Jean is with her granddaughter in spirit traveling, through rural parts of Utah where screenings and genetic testing may not be as accessible for women.

“I’ve already had a few women call me who live in the Vernal area in the campus area," she said. "We want to be able to serve women who are everywhere. So I would love to have a second or even a third bus at some point where we are really out there making sure women can be served everywhere.”