We women can come up with a world of excuses to avoid mammograms and PAP tests. In the past, I've come up with a few myself.
But I know enduring those brief, uncomfortable tests is a lot better than allowing breast or cervical cancer to get a foothold in my body.
The only legitimate reason is a lack of insurance and money to pay for those tests.
Well, six Lexington organizations have joined forces to kick that final excuse to the curb.
On Oct. 30, screenings for breast and cervical cancer will be offered on a sliding fee scale thanks to the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, the Mayor's Task Force on Health and Wellness, the Sisters Fighting Breast and Cervical Cancer Coalition, the Markey Cancer Center, the Brenda D. Cowan Coalition's Hermana a Hermana Program, and Kentucky Pink Connection.
Women who have not been screened in more than five years, women who are un insured, underinsured or have high deductibles, and women who are 40 or older are invited to sign up for screenings.
A similar screening event in April at the health department's north side clinic drew 64 women. Last October, 60 women took advantage of the opportunity.
This month's event will be 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the health department's Public Clinic South, 2433 Regency Road.
Why are so many people trying so hard to get women screened?
"Early detection saves lives," said Greg Hiles, a health department spokesman.
I know. You've heard that a thousand times. But it's true.
More than 40,000 women and 300 men in the United States die annually from breast cancer. Deaths for women with breast cancer are outpaced only by deaths from lung cancer, according to Breastcancer.org, a non-profit organization that provides information about the disease.
Hiles said the organizers would like to target African-American and Hispanic women, two groups who are notorious for putting off screenings far too long.
Breastcancer.org notes that African-American women are less likely to develop breast cancer than white women, but they are more likely to die from it. We tend to have a more aggressive type of breast cancer. No one knows why.
Cervical cancer, on the other hand, is a slow- growing disease in the lower part of the uterus that can be detected with a PAP test. It is the second-most common cancer affecting women: The National Cancer Institute predicts 12,200 new cases of cervical cancer this year, with some 4,210 deaths. That breaks down to about 33 women being diagnosed each day and 11 women dying from it.
The screening event might help decrease those numbers. If any problems are detected, patients will receive examinations at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital. Call (859) 288-2446 to make an appointment for the screening event, then make sure you show up.
OK, I hear another excuse coming.
You're saying Oct. 30 is too close to Halloween. You have a party that night or have to get the kids some costumes. You just can't make it.
Hiles said the same screenings are conducted by the health department every weekday, still on a sliding fee scale. Those screenings are by appointment at the Public Health North Side Clinic, 805 Newtown Circle, and Public Clinic South. Just call the same number: (859) 288-2446.
The special screening is being held on a Saturday, which could reach more women who work during the week. About two a year are held on a weekend, usually in April and again in October, National Breast Cancer Month.
Bottom line is: Go.
These organizations have eliminated all your excuses. The rest is up to you.