SAN DIEGO–What would you do if you or a loved one couldn’t afford a mammogram, but you knew something was wrong? That’s a question thousands of women in San Diego County are now asking themselves. On January 1, California’s state screening program shut its doors. They won’t reopen until July. And when they do, the program will no longer serve women aged 40-49. What’s worse, Governor Schwarzenegger is considering additional cuts for next year. Last week, Susan G. Komen for the Cure advocates rallied at the Capitol in Sacramento to let their elected officials know that these cuts are unacceptable.
Komen is the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists committed to ending breast cancer forever. Second only to the government when it comes to funding breast cancer research and treatment for those in need, the organization will have to work hard to bridge the gap left by budget cuts to help in its mission to provide San Diegans with the breast health services they need, particularly during this uncertain time. The need is apparent: this year, Komen San Diego received more than $2 million in grant requests.
Unfortunately, due to the economy, the organization is only able to fund a fraction. Komen San Diego urges San Diegans to step up and help save women’s lives during this time of crisis by donating today to protect breast cancer programs across the country.
“Today, there is something you can do about it,” said Laura Farmer Sherman, survivor and executive director of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, San Diego. “While Komen is leading the fight in state capitals across the country, we need the community’s help, too. We cannot let these cuts go unchallenged. The lives of our mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, friends and neighbors are at risk. Women in San Diego County are depending on us.”
The cuts to California’s Every Woman Counts (EWC) program effectively shut the doors to breast cancer screening services for 1.2 million low-income and uninsured women for the first six months of 2010. Citing budgetary concerns, the state also announced that once screening begins for new patients this summer, only women age 50 and above will be eligible — significantly reducing the number of women in the state that will have access to affordable breast cancer screenings.
EWC is a joint program by the state Department of Public Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.
“Many women we assist at Komen San Diego fall in the age group of 40 to 49, and they must have access to mammography if they need it,” said Farmer Sherman. “We are prepared to do whatever it takes, but we can’t do it alone. These women deserve a chance at survival.”
Early detection of breast cancer is a key to surviving the disease. When breast cancer is detected early, the five-year relative survival rate is 98 percent, but declines to 84 percent for regional disease and 23 percent when cancer has metastasized or spread to other parts of the body. Unfortunately, women with low incomes who are uninsured or underinsured — like those eligible for EWC — are more likely to skip potentially life-saving cancer screenings, which leads to later diagnoses, larger tumors and lower survival rates.
In California alone, 21,700 women will have been diagnosed with breast cancer this year and more than 4,000 will have lost their battle with the disease.