Barbara H. hadn’t had a Pap test in 20 years and had never had a mammogram. Sadly, five of Barbara’s aunts suffered from breast cancer. At 55, Barbara has delayed recommended breast cancer screening for 15 years.
Maggie P. hadn’t had a mammogram or Pap test in more than 10 years. Her mother is a breast cancer survivor. Maggie’s family has limited financial resources and has lost their health insurance.
Deanna D. has three grown children and she wants to be in their lives as long as possible. Without insurance, she has been unable to get a mammogram for several years.
Barbara, Maggie, and Deanna—and more than 40 other women—got free cancer screening on a warm, sunny August Saturday at Norton Community Hospital. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains in southwest Virginia, Norton is a small town with the “one way in, one way out” feel of remote communities. On this day, it was the site of a CAP Foundation See, Test & Treat program.
Living far from a big city, access to health care is a challenge, exacerbated by the same inability to pay for insurance and medical care as nearly all women who attend See, Test & Treat programs.
In this community, like many others, the mother takes responsibility for the family’s welfare
“I usually take care of everybody else—my mom, my dad, my aunts, my uncles, my kids, my husband, my animals—and then me,” said Sandi S. “This time, I put me first. I want to be around for my grandkids.” Sandi’s friend, Tiffany M., agreed: “It’s my time to take care of me for a change. I am the last one to eat and the last one to go to bed.”
Caring for your family is something that makes this region strong, but it can have serious negative consequences. For example, there’s Clella F., a colon cancer survivor. She now understands the importance of screening. “The earlier you get tested, the better the chance you have for survival.”
It took Jedus L. nearly an hour to get to Norton from her home in Gate City. Meeting other women who also had concerns about their health made her feel less alone. Pathology residents and medical students were on hand to provide microscope demonstrations. “I really liked learning about normal versus abnormal cells,” Jedus said to a CAP Foundation representative early in the day. By day’s end, she learned that her Pap test was abnormal. Jedus, and other women with abnormal results, were referred to treatment.
Tiffany M. has five children, and before she attended See, Test & Treat, she wasn’t open to having her kids inoculated with the HPV vaccine. Then she spoke with Gabrelle Taylor at the Prevent Cancer Foundation information table.
“We’re here to raise awareness of viruses that can cause cancer, such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HPV,” explained Gabrelle, manager of educational campaigns at Prevent Cancer. That’s the central message of Prevent Cancer’s Think About the Link™ campaign.
The only US nonprofit organization solely devoted to cancer prevention and early detection, Prevent Cancer was a first-time sponsor of this See, Test & Treat program.
Barbara, Maggie, and the others have the same concerns as women who took part in all 13 See, Test & Treat events this year: their family’s welfare, their inability to afford insurance, and the frightening prospect of a life shortened by disease.
“This program gives me peace of mind. I can put my worries behind me,” said Sandi.
In supporting See, Test & Treat, the Foundation’s sponsors and donors are helping to provide answers to the concerns of women, mothers, sisters, and daughters. Like Sandi, they all hope to live a long life full of joy.