By Stephanie Stahl

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — Friday marks the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Doctors are concerned some cancers are being missed because some people have avoided cancer screenings, fearful of COVID-19.

This South Jersey woman is on the frontlines of fighting cancer, but it was her friends and colleagues at work who made the difference.

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“I am a procrastinator, I was scheduled, something came up, didn’t go, then the pandemic,” Yolanda Bush said.

Bush put off getting her yearly mammogram. Ironically, she works at Cooper Hospital’s MD Anderson Cancer Center.

“I was always on her,” Miriam Otero said.

Otero and Bush call themselves roommates at work.

“I said, ‘Yolanda come on, let’s get this going, you need to get your mammogram,'” Otero said.

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When she finally did, the 53-year-old mother of three found out she had breast cancer

“Scared, very shocking. That was very shocking news,” Bush said.

Black women have slightly lower rates of breast cancer, but their chances of dying from it are 40% higher than white women, mainly because of a delayed diagnosis.

“It’s hard even getting them to come out to the outreach,” Bush said. “We barely see minority people in the outreach so it’s really hard getting them screened.”

Bush is recovered now. She says she learned important lessons, not just about the need for timely cancer screenings but also about friendship and looking out for each other.

It’s emotional getting through cancer. With the help of friends and knowing that insistent reminders about mammograms really can be life-changing.

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“If we can at least save one life, whether it’s our roommate, whether it’s our family member, whether it’s a friend, that’s what our program is all about,” Otero said. “That’s what cancer screening is all about.”

Stephanie Stahl