Buddy Check 3: New program for younger breast cancer patients gets a big boost

Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks, CoxHealth, and Mercy launch project to help patients under 35
Published: May. 3, 2022 at 5:23 PM CDT|Updated: May. 3, 2022 at 5:35 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - There is a new program making a massive difference for younger patients diagnosed with breast cancer here in the Ozarks. We first told you about the potential for this program last summer.

For years, some breast cancer patients under 35 have struggled financially to get the follow-up tests they need after a troubling mammogram. The Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks recognized that and started a crowd-funding campaign last summer. BCFO is announcing “U-35.” It’s a program for patients under 35 years old who need financial help to get the diagnostic tests required to identify breast cancer.

Ashley Carter works for the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks now. But seven years ago, she was a 26-year-old mom, stunned when genetic testing led to discovering she had breast cancer. Ashley says because tests showed the gene mutation that increases the risk for breast cancer, she had an MRI and a screening mammogram, which revealed she already had five tumors in her breast.

Carter says the diagnosis was shocking and scary, especially since she had two small children. That’s when BCFO first came into her life.

According to Carter, BCFO paid for childcare so that her children could continue going to daycare because she couldn’t lift and take care of them. BCFO also paid Ashley’s mortgage and utilities to keep her family in their home.

Carter was fortunate to have insurance that covered the typical diagnostic tests once breast cancer was suspected. Many women under the age of 35 are uninsured or under-insured and ineligible for the financial help women 35 and older can get from the state.

BCFO’s Kathryn Wall says, “women would call us who were 32 or in their 20′s and even just 34, you know right there on that cusp and just needed help because they were having symptoms and needed a diagnostic mammogram, there wasn’t an option for them.”

The need became so apparent that after a short crowdfunding campaign last year, BCFO kept growing the project with enthusiastic support from its board.

According to Kathryn, “we went to our hospital partners, and CoxHealth and Mercy have been amazing. In the pandemic, right in the middle of Omicron, we said hey, we have the funding. Can we make this happen? They have worked so hard and diligently that we are now at a place where we’ve been able to launch the program.”

No one is happier about that than Ashley, a breast cancer survivor who spends every day helping other breast cancer survivors navigate the hurdles that come with the disease.

She says, “it’s special because I don’t have to say no to people when they call and they need this, and I get to help them in a way that there’s not any other service for them. I get to tell them we can help you. Let me let you talk to the right person. It is breaking a barrier that needed to be broken, and it’s tremendous to be able to do that.”

Contact Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks for more information about this U35 program. And as always, if you would like to be part of the Buddy Check 3 program, please sign up right here at https://www.ky3.com/page/buddy-check-3/.

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