Cancer prevention care sometimes difficult to get

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— Many women fighting for their lives in battles against breast cancer may be doing so because they lost earlier fights to receive preventative care, like mammograms, according to the National Breast Cancer Coalition.
Local women whose seasonal or part-time jobs don't include benefits may have a particularly hard time covering the costs of treatment for any kind of illness, Sue Birch, of Visiting Nurses Association of Northwest Colorado, said.
When treating actual health problems is financially difficult, the financial resources necessary for preventative medicine and measures and certainly not available, Jan Fritz, also of the coalition, said.
Unfortunately, many women and their families fall into this category in Routt County, Birch said.
For a woman without health insurance, a mammogram at, for example, Memorial Hospital in Craig, costs about $100.
During October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, women without health insurance or women on a low-income who also meet other eligibility requirements may be able to get special discounts and even free mammograms, according to Charity (last name withheld on request), a center assistant at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.
Year-round, as a recipient of a state-funded grant called Colorado Women's Cancer Control Initiative, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains provides pelvic exams and mammograms to women in age groups of 40 to 49, and 50 and over, respectively.
Women who live in Colorado or in a state bordering Colorado, and who receive breast or cervical health care within Colorado, may be eligible for the free care, Charity said.
As long as household income is at or below 250 percent of federal poverty guidelines, and the women seeking preventative breast health care is 50 or older, she will probably qualify for the free care, center assistants at Planned Parenthood explained.
For reference, a household of three people with an annual income of $35,375 or less meets the necessary federal poverty guidelines.
For women under 50, and without health insurance that specifically covers mammograms (this may not include major medical insurance depending on your particular insurance plan), Planned Parenthood provides breast cancer awareness cards and tips about self exams.
If, like many women including those who work at Planned Parenthood you're not exactly sure what you're looking for in those self-exams, stop by Planned Parenthood at 1104B 11th Street, where center assistants can help direct you, or call 879-2212.
You can also call Memorial Hospital in Craig to find out whether you qualify for a discounted mammogram this month, at 824-9411.

To reach Bonnie Nadzam call 871-4204 or e-mail bnadzam@amigo.net

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