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Four years, $1 million later, it's here | Journey of the Buddy Bus

The Buddy Bus, a mobile mammography unit was unveiled Thursday. It's been a longtime coming and for First Coast News' Jeannie Blaylock, the journey has been special.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Can you imagine being on a crusade to save lives for thirty years. That's just what First Coast News Anchor Jeannie Blaylock has been doing on our First Coast, spreading the message of monthly self exams with her Buddy Check mission. Today, a major celebration because of the more than $1 million fundraising and donation efforts and Jeannie's tireless dedication. First Coast News revealed the Buddy Bus live during its most-watched 6PM newscast. The Buddy Bus is a mobile mammography unit dedicated to bringing mammograms to people in Northeast Florida.

You saw the buzz on, air and on social for two weeks proclaiming, 'It's Coming,' to our First Coast. The anticipation was palpable as a sea of people dressed in pink filled the First Coast News parking lot, including the Jacksonville Jaguars Roar Cheerleaders, D-Line, USA Showtime Cheer Team, Jacksonville Giants, cancer survivors, First Coast News employees and Baptist Health employees. Under the leadership of Jeannie's command, the crowd yelled 'drop the drape.' The Buddy Bus was revealed just moments after a special ribbon cutting made by Jeannie's Mom, a breast cancer survivor. at 6PM on WTLV NBC12 and WJXX ABC25.

“I always tell folks to think about the people they love beyond words,” said Jeannie Blaylock, a First Coast News anchor. “Do Buddy Check for them because they need you alive. And now with the Buddy Bus, do not skip that mammogram. It can pick up pre-cancers as tiny as grains of sand. That can save your life!”

About 35% of women don’t get a regular mammogram, yet one in eight women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. To improve access, Baptist MD Anderson worked closely with First Coast News raise funds to purchase and equip the bus. The bus will offer mammograms for men as well as women.

The name of the bus is a reference to the longstanding Buddy Check program, which, for more than 30 years, has encouraged local women and their friends to do monthly breast self-checks. The program includes monthly news segments about finding breast cancer early, featuring First Coast News anchor Jeannie Blaylock, as well as free Buddy Check kits that explain how to perform a self-exam.

“Detection is crucial for catching breast cancer early. The most effective way to do this is through screening,” said Laila Samiian, MD, director of the breast program at Baptist MD Anderson. “Initiatives like the Buddy Bus are what make it possible for us to catch breast cancer at its earliest, most treatable stages.”

To register the Buddy Bus to visit your place of business, visit baptistjax.com/buddy. 

For more, visit firstcoastnews.com/buddycheck12.