Women's health

'Yes, Mamm!' program helps with cost of breast cancer screening

mmeehan1@herald-leader.comNovember 4, 2013 

Paula Davis put off getting a mammogram for years. Her biggest excuse was that she couldn't afford the procedure, but she finally got screened for free via the Yes, Mamm! program through Saint Joseph Hospital and Susan G. Komen Lexington.

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  • MORE INFORMATION:

    To get screening through Yes, Mamm!: Call the Kentucky Pink Connection at 1-877-597-4655 or the Saint Joseph Breast Center at (859) 967-5613.

    For information about supporting the Yes, Mamm! program: Call the Saint Joseph Health Foundation at (859) 313-1705 or email Barry Stumbo stumboba@sjhlex.org.

Paula Davis takes care of her father, who is suffering from Alzheimer's, her kids, her pets, her house and the man she loves.

But Davis' annual mammogram, for years, never made her to-do list.

Davis kept putting off a mammogram, even though her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer at age 33.

Davis found the lump three years ago and still didn't make the appointment for the exam. There were a lot of things going on, she said. She was overwhelmed with her everyday responsibilities. Money was tight: Her partner, Bryan Phillips, is on disability, and Davis, who worked for years at the Lancome counter, now cares for her father full-time.

Davis also admits that she was scared. In a kind of backward logic that fellow worriers will understand, Davis figured if she didn't get the lump checked, she couldn't get a confirmation that she had cancer. It seemed, for a while, better not to know. Her mother's double mastectomy affected her self-image for years after surgery.

But that maternal diagnosis was one of the reasons Phillips, who has been with Davis for 13 years, persisted in urging her to get the test.

Davis' biggest excuse was that she didn't have the money — about $100.

But the Yes, Mamm! program, which was created for women like Davis who need a mammogram but don't have insurance or the money to cover the cost, finally eliminated that hurdle.

In 2013, Susan G. Komen Lexington Affiliate awarded the Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation $25,030 in support of Yes, Mamm! The foundation raised an additional $35,000, said Di Boyer, director of major gifts.

In difficult economic times, anybody could be in need, even those who are working full time, Boyer said.

"It might be the lady who is styling your hair who doesn't have insurance," she said. "It might be somebody who is laid off. We have heard stories of people choosing between buying groceries and getting a mammogram."

In the last six months, Boyer said, more than 200 women, including Davis, have gotten a mammogram through the program. The foundation works with Kentucky Pink Connection, a Lexington-based non-profit focused on breast cancer, which helps set up the appointments and provides transportation if needed. The mammograms can be performed at any Saint Joseph facility, she said.

Davis said getting the mammogram saved her life. The lump she had so long ignored turned out to be cancerous. After getting the mammogram at Saint Joseph, she was able to sign up through HealthFirst Bluegrass for the state program that covers breast cancer treatment. She had surgery Oct. 22 and is recovering, and she will soon start radiation. She's hoping for a full recovery.

Yes, Mamm!, Davis said, "has been amazing."

At every step, she said, "I have just been treated with such great respect."

Davis is hopeful that she will have a full recovery. And she hopes that her story will persuade others not to follow her example and stop putting off getting a mammogram.

"I have been blessed," she said.

The focus of Yes, Mamm! is eliminating barriers to getting the potentially life-saving screening, Boyer said. The Saint Joseph system, KentuckyOne Health, plans to implement the program in other locations throughout the state and is scheduled to expand into London, Berea and Mount Sterling next year.

"It's 2013, and everybody should have access to the screening," she said.

The Komen grant has been a huge help, but the Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation is looking for individuals and companies to aid in the cause.

"The deal is that there is now a greater need than we have funds for," said Boyd. "There are still so many women who are not being screened."


More information:

For screening through Yes, Mamm!: Call the Kentucky Pink Connection at 1-877-597-4655 or the Saint Joseph Breast Center at (859) 967-5613.

For information about supporting the Yes, Mamm! program: Call the Saint Joseph Health Foundation at (859) 313-1705 or email Barry Stumbo stumboba@sjhlex.org.

Mary Meehan: (859) 231-3261. Twitter: @bgmoms. Blog: BluegrassMoms.com.

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