February is the season for love, and Valentine’s Day is also a great opportunity to show yourself a little love at BreastFest, a special day-long event for lesbian and bi women hosted by the LGBT Health Resource Center of Chase Brexton Health Care.

BreastFest is set for February 14th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the large community room at Chase Brexton’s Mount Vernon Center (1111 North Charles Street, in Baltimore). The event begins with a breast health fair, including a mobile mammogram screening van available by appointment to current Chase Brexton patients. Later that evening, the LGBT Health Resource Center will host a singles mixer for lesbian and bi women at Flavor (15 East Centre Street, Baltimore).

We caught up with Kate Bishop, the LGBT Health Resource Center’s Education Coordinator, to learn a little more about the event, and the importance of getting screened for breast cancer.

Why is it important for all women to have regular screenings? One in eight women will develop breast cancer, and one in 36 will die from it. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer seen in women after skin cancer, it’s the most common cause of death from cancer for Latina women, and it’s the second leading cause of death from cancer for women overall. The good news is that while incidence rates of breast cancer remain the same, rates of death from it are decreasing in all women thanks to better awareness of the need for accurate, early detection. Regular mammograms save lives.

Some individuals may not feel comfortable having a screening – how do you help make them feel better about it? According to the National LGBT Cancer Network, lesbian, and bisexual women are disproportionately more likely to get breast cancer, but they are far less likely to get the routine cancer screenings they need. Many same-gender-loving, queer, bisexual, and lesbian women have faced discrimination in past health care experiences, while others may fear that they will be treated badly if they are honest about their identity. The LGBT Health Resource Center of Chase Brexton can provide a uniquely comfortable space to support SGLBQ women who are overdue for their annual exam. Chase Brexton’s BreastFest strives to create a fun, frank, low-anxiety atmosphere for friends and partners to enjoy while celebrating one another’s good health.

Why is Valentine’s Day a good time for this event? Because Chase Brexton wants you to love your breasts! Though Valentine’s Day has come to stand for romance, all great relationships are founded on self-love. Getting a mammogram is more than just a routine medical screening. It is a gift of love to yourself, your partners and friends, and your communities. Keeping our community strong for the challenges ahead means taking the very best care of ourselves we can. Will you be your Valentine?

How can someone make an appointment to get a mammogram at BreastFest? Individuals do need an appointment to get a mammogram at the event, though anyone can come to BreastFest activities apart from the actual screening. To get the mammogram, the individual must be a patient of Chase Brexton so we can make a referral and retrieve their medical history, as well as get them the forms they will need to complete before their appointment. Anyone interested in receiving a mammogram at BreastFest can call 410-837-2020 x8802 to reserve an appointment slot.

If someone would like more resources or information about breast health, where can they go? The LGBT Health Resource Center of Chase Brexton Health Care is available to answer your questions via email at lgbt@chasebrexton.org  or by phone at 410-837-2050 x1049. The Mautner Project at Whitman-Walker offers resources focused on LGBT individuals and cancer at Tinyurl.com/Mautner. You can also visit The National LGBT Cancer Network at Cancer-network.org and check out some CDC breast cancer statistics at cdc.gov/cancer/breast.