(BASTROP) There have been no cures for breast cancer discovered during these months of the COVID pandemic, making October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month as important as ever.
We at Stanberry Realtors, along with Bastrop County Cares Breast Cancer Coalition, recognize the importance of breast screenings and early breast cancer detection.
“Breast Cancer Awareness month saved my life in 2008,” Kelley Harris, Stanberry Realtor said. “I kept hearing ‘breast cancer,’ ‘breast cancer.’ I knew something wasn’t quite right for me, so those messages that October made me go in for a screening. I was officially diagnosed with breast cancer through that screening and went through surgery and year-long treatments resulting in the cancer going into remission.”
Linda Ornelas Wilson, M.D., chair of the Bastrop County Cares Breast Cancer Coalition, said that the national average for early breast cancer screening is 75% but in Bastrop County, the rate is only 40%. These percentages are especially concerning to their mission in Bastrop County because African Americans tend to have a higher mortality rate with breast cancer and breast cancer in the Hispanic population is generally not detected until later stages of the disease.
Dr. Wilson, a breast cancer survivor herself, points to various reasons people put off screening including insurance/financial concerns, time constraints, and simply fear of the unknown. She said that early detection is key to less expensive treatments.
With all of that considered, the Bastrop County Cares Breast Cancer Coalition has kicked off a Pinky Promise campaign that runs through March 2021. This pilot program for preventive breast cancer treatment has the goal to increase breast cancer screening for those in Bastrop County zip codes by 15% per year over the next two years. Particularly, in conjunction with Bastrop Community Action, they are targeting breast cancer screening for uninsured/underinsured populations with the desire to provide breast cancer screening at no cost for up to 50 women. To date, 20 women have been screened with 2 referred for diagnosis.
This Pinky Promise initiative will be recognized formally with a ribbon-cutting and County decoration issued by County Judge Paul Pape on the Courthouse steps Saturday, Oct. 17 at 10 a.m.
Dr. Wilson said that the screenings take place at Seton Smithville for state-of-the-art 3-D imaging or at Ascension Seton Bastrop. The Bastrop County Cares Breast Cancer Coalition has also partnered with CARTS to provide transportation to those screening sites.
Certainly, screening is the first step in tackling breast cancer. But, even Stanberry Agent Kelley Harris said that her cancer treatment was expensive, and she was thankful for help she received from her doctor’s office business office and from the American Cancer Society. Stanberry Realtors Bastrop have not only been by Kelley’s side but have also walked with Realtor Mary Ellen Franklin as she conquered breast cancer. The Bastrop realtors have supported the American Cancer Society through Relay for Life for many years.
Knowing that treatment can be costly, the Bastrop County Cares Breast Cancer Coalition, partnering with various medical entities, have identified that they can absorb medical treatment costs for approximately four women per year of Pinky Promise.
Another point of celebration for those involved with this initiative is the resurrection of the pink, mobile breast cancer screening bus in Spring 2021 that will travel to a six-county area including Bastrop, Travis, Williamson, Caldwell, Hayes, and Burnet. This $4.5 million dollar endeavor will make breast cancer screening convenient in those communities.
“We want to address breast cancer screening first and then move to screening for other cancers,” Dr. Wilson said. “The goal is to make cancer screening a part of the Bastrop County culture.”