Military Spouses, Breast Cancer Survivors Urge Early Detection

TriWest Reminds Women Everywhere: Mammograms Save Lives

PHOENIX, Oct. 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Neither Mara Street nor Heather Cooke planned to get their mammograms.

Both women are military spouses. Both women are mothers. Both women are covered by TRICARE for their health benefits. And after their mammograms, both women learned they had breast cancer.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and TriWest Healthcare Alliance—the company that administers the military's TRICARE health benefit to 2.9 million beneficiaries in the western U.S.—wants to remind all women why mammograms are so important.  

Nearly 90 percent of women with breast cancer survive—because of early detection. Just ask Mara Street and Heather Cooke.

'I Do Not Have a History of Breast Cancer'

After turning 40, Mara Street received a call from TRICARE to recommend she go for her first yearly mammogram.

An Air Force spouse and mother of six, Street didn't listen at first and "deleted the message, thinking, 'I'm a healthy young woman. I do not have a history of breast cancer.' "

But two weeks later, TRICARE called again. This time, Street listened. And after going for her first mammogram, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"If it hadn't been for TriWest making two phone calls, we may have waited until she was 50 years of age, and our opportunities and options would have been grossly limited," said Timothy Street, her husband.

Early Detection Saved Her Life

Heather Cooke's mother initially nagged her to get a full gamut of preventive tests. The wife of a retired general and mother of four went for a routine mammogram—and learned she had early-stage breast cancer.

Cooke, 52, wanted to be there for her kids. So she launched into action and after undergoing a series of procedures, she's cancer-free.

"My doctors have told me that because I was able to detect (the cancer) early and aggressively attack it, that my chances of not having another cancerous growth are 99 percent," she said.

The Importance of Mammograms

  • Mammograms can detect early stage breast cancer as soon as three years before the lump can be felt, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Breast cancer is the most treatable in its earliest stages.

TRICARE covers yearly screening mammograms for women ages 40 and older, at no cost to them. For those considered at high risk, TRICARE will begin covering mammograms at age 35.

To watch other stories like Cooke's and Street's, visit

About TriWest

TriWest Healthcare Alliance partners with the Department of Defense to do "Whatever It Takes" to support the healthcare needs of 2.9 million members of America's military family. A Phoenix-based corporation, TriWest provides access to cost-effective, high-quality health care in the 21-state TRICARE West Region. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, or visit for more information.