Med center grant helps uninsured women

Published 6:00 am Friday, November 17, 2000

Several dozen uninsured Lincoln County women will soon receiveassistance in the early detection of breast cancer with the help ofa grant awarded to King’s Daughters Medical Center.

KDMC is one of seven Central Mississippi health providers thatwill receive $10,000 grants from funds raised by the Susan G. KomenBreast Cancer Foundation.

“We’re excited about having the opportunity to be able toimprove women’s health with this grant,” said KDMC Chief ExecutiveOfficer Phillip Grady.

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KDMC will use the grant to fund a new breast cancer preventionprogram called “Check On Us, Too,” which will provide mammogramsfor 70 uninsured working women who otherwise could not affordit.

“These are women who usually don’t seek health care until theyhave symptoms, and with breast cancer it’s important to detect itin the early stages,” said Cathy Bridge, director of research andinfection control at KDMC.

The idea to assist the select group of women came after Bridgesought advice from Becky Calcote, Lincoln County HealthDepartment’s county coordinate nurse. Calcote had noticed a greatneed for uninsured women from 40-64 years old, who are high riskfor breast cancer, but not old enough to receive Medicarebenefits.

Uninsured women are less likely to have regular physical examsand mammograms, and the result is they are far more likely to haveadvanced stages of breast cancer when it is diagnosed, Bridgepointed out.

Consequently, among women diagnosed with breast cancer, theuninsured are 40-60 percent more likely to die from thedisease.

“We’re hoping to decrease the mortality rate of breast cancer inthis area by early detection,” said Bridge, adding that thescreening only applies to women who do not have any symptoms.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer, excluding skin cancer,among American women, and is second only to lung cancer in cancerrelated deaths. An estimated 182,800 new cases will be diagnosedamong women this year, and over 40,000 women will die from breastcancer.

Mammography is the best available method to detect breastcancer. In most cases, the earlier breast cancer is detected, thebetter the survival rate, according to data from Centers forDisease Control and Prevention.

KDMC officials are thankful for the opportunity the grant willgive them to hopefully have a positive impact on breast cancerstatistics.

“It’s very important to me, personally, because both my motherand mother-in-law had breast cancer,” said Grady.

“Check On Us, Too” will begin receiving applications andreferrals in December, and screenings should begin in January withabout six or seven applicants per month getting mammograms.

Another aspect of the new program will be assistance forphysically-handicapped women who are unable to stand during theprocedure.

“We are buying a mammography chair that will allow patients tosit down if they physically need to,” said Bridge.

She hopes the program will benefit the community, not onlyduring the upcoming year, but for a long time to come, with acoalition of breast cancer survivors to be organized within thenext year to help continue the program.

“We’re hoping to raise awareness, continue the program andincrease the number of women we screen,” she said.

If the program accomplishes its goals, it will have alsofulfilled the mission of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which wasfounded by the sister of a breast cancer victim. Komen, a highschool and college beauty queen, died of breast cancer when she wasin her mid-30s.

The foundation, which was established in 1982, is based on theidea that one person can make a difference.

Bridge said the story of Komen and her close relationship withher sister, Nancy Brinker, is unbelievable.

“I was really moved by the love of one sister and what thefoundation has done already for breast cancer,” she said.