May 3, 2016 | Dawson, GA – In March, the Cancer Coalition of South Georgia wrapped up the first year of its Wise Women Rural Breast Cancer Outreach Education and Screening Program in Terrell County. The program was created to increase breast cancer screening and education among low-income, uninsured women age 40-64. Cancer Coalition officials said work will continue in Terrell County, and staff will also reach out to uninsured women in Lee County this year.
“Many southwest Georgia communities suffer dis-proportionally from breast cancer as compared to the rest of the state. The Wise Women program was designed to increase access to breast cancer screening by eliminating financial barriers faced by uninsured Terrell County women,” said Kimberly Scott, director of the Cancer Coalition’s Center to Reduce Cancer Disparities She said women in Terrell County suffer the third highest incidence rate of breast cancer in the state. She added data also shows Lee County women suffering one of the highest death rates from breast cancer in the state.
“Even those women living in more affluent communities are not immune to this disease. Those without health insurance face some of the same barriers to preventive health services as lower-income uninsured women,” said Scott.
She stressed that regular screening mammograms can help find breast cancer at an early stage, when treatment is most successful.
Throughout the first year of the program in Terrell County, Scott reported that 63 uninsured women received mammograms at no cost. She said the Cancer Coalition is able to provide these services through its longstanding partnership with Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, the Terrell County Health Department, and the Southwest Georgia Health District. “All of our organizations are committed to do all we can to help uninsured women get these lifesaving tests, as well as treatment when needed,” said Scott.
Scott said the Cancer Coalition’s professional navigators helped eliminate other barriers that prevent many women from getting a mammogram. Navigator Tarccara Hodge works in the community to reach women one-on-one.
“”We take time to talk to women to help alleviate any concerns they may have about breast cancer screening. We also provide transportation assistance to women who would not otherwise be able to travel to Albany for their mammogram,” Hodge explained.
She added that more than 700 Terrell County women received screening promotion messages through community outreach and other sources, while she helped educate nearly 80 women during small group educational sessions held at faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, and local businesses.
Funding for the first year of the program was provided through a grant from Georgia Access to Care, Treatment, and Services (ACTS) Breast Cancer Grant Program on behalf of the Georgia State Office of Rural Health, managed by Atlanta-based Georgia CORE.
Scott announced that through a grant from another Atlanta-based organization called It’s The Journey, the Wise Women program will continue for at least another year, serving women in both Terrell and Lee Counties. Scott said that while the latest grant focuses on these two counties, the Cancer Coalition routinely helps uninsured women who live in other southwest Georgia counties get access to breast cancer screening and follow-up.
For more information, call Kimberly Scott at (229) 312-1700.
The Cancer Coalition of South Georgia exists to prevent cancer and increase survival among the people of South Georgia through community-based services, education, research and outreach.
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