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Programs provide funding for women who need breast exams, mammograms

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Without insurance, Gladys Logan wasn't sure how she would afford a mammogram. A friend told her about mobile mammography, but there was a cost associated with it. She didn't have the money to pay for it, and because she didn't qualify for Medicaid, that wasn't an option either.

So she took a chance, and called the Rutherford County Health Department. It was a call that could have saved her life.

"The program at the health department helped me to get a free breast exam, and when that showed something on it, the nurses there worked with me to get another mammogram done at the hospital," Logan said. "I had to have surgery to remove a spot .... but it wasn't cancer, thank God. This program paid for the entire process."

The program Logan utilized is the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program or BCCCP (pronounced be-sep). In North Carolina, BCCCP began in 1992. The program was the first chronic disease screening program funded in the United States, and is received through a competitive grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently BCCCP is offered by 102 local agencies across the state, including the Rutherford Polk McDowell District Health Department.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths for women in the state. Each year more than 6,000 women in North Carolina will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and more than 1,000 with die from the disease.

"If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, through this program you will be approved for Medicaid treatments," said Alicia Dayberry, who along with Nickie Brady, serves as coordinators of the BCCCP in Rutherford County.

Women who have a problem or find a lump in their breast should call the health department for a consultation and be enrolled in the program. BCCCP is for women who have no insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, and eligibility for services is based on income.

Women are eligible for BCCCP if they meet all of the following criteria:

- Are ages 50 to 64 for breast services and 18 to 64 for cervical.

- Have a household income at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty level.

- Are uninsured or underinsured.

- Are without Medicare Part B or Medicaid.

For women who are ages 40 to 49, there is also grant funding for screening mammograms, Brady said. Those funds were provided to the health department from contributions made to RHI Legacy Foundation. The grant will pay for screening mammograms for women in the 40 to 49 age range who meet certain qualifications. Many physicians recommend that mammograms begin at age 40.

"RHI Legacy Foundation encourages individual donors, church groups and businesses to make that funding possible," said Jill Miracle, executive director of RHI Legacy Foundation. "We also hold a significant annual event, Women Together, that helps to provide funds for cancer services. Women Together will be held Feb. 20, 2016, and details will be released before the holiday."

Consultations for breast services are by appointment only.

"Breast cancer isn't a death sentence anymore," Dayberry said.

"There's help and they don't have to through this alone," Brady said, adding, "We don't realize some of the situations women are in," Brady said. "This program is a blessing."

It was an answer to Logan's prayers.

"I took a chance on asking," Logan said. "There are programs out there to help those of us without insurance or Medicaid. I prayed about it, and I feel like God said to go and check. If I hadn't, it could've been something that turned into cancer."

For more information on this and other programs offered through the Rutherford County Health Department, please call 828-287-6100.

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