In July 2016, at the ripe old age of 27, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I first noticed a lump in my breast in early June while I was performing a breast self-examination. Initially, I thought it may have been hormonal changes due to my menstrual cycle, but when the lump did not shrink/go away by the beginning of July, I had it examined. At first, my gynecologist thought the lump was a cyst, but he sent me to get a mammogram anyway because of my family history. Within five days of my first visit, and after a mammogram, ultrasound, and biopsy, I was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer.
LBCHP has had a growth spurt! Since Medicaid Expansion, we have developed new eligibility criteria to cover more women, and increased our reach in the state to providers in Alexandria, Lake Charles and Zachary. We know Louisiana has high death rates from both breast and cervical cancer, in part due to lack of screening and access to healthcare. It is our hope that these new improvements will help us reach more women who need life-saving cancer screenings across the state.
World Cancer Day, February 4th, happens to fall between two big cancer awareness months: cervical & colorectal cancer. Director of the Louisiana Cancer Prevention & Control Programs (LCP), Donna Williams, told the Louisiana Radio network during her interview that, “The goal of World Cancer Day is to raise awareness about cancer prevention methods…Everywhere all across the world there are things that can be done to decrease the deaths from cancer.”
February is Black History Month, a time when we celebrate the contributions African Americans have made to our country. But even as we celebrate, we must remember that African Americans suffer the highest cancer mortality rate of any racial or ethnic group in the US. Here in Louisiana, white and black women are diagnosed with breast cancer at equal rates, but black women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer before age 45, and are more likely to die from the disease. These disparities have been linked to a host of factors, including genetics and the fact that black women’s breast cancer is often more advanced when it is first diagnosed.
Confused about your well-woman visit? You’re not alone. Changing guidelines and recommendations have led to some confusion on when to have your visit, who should have a well-woman visit, and what a well-woman visit should include.
A well-woman visit or gynecological exam includes a pelvic exam, which is a physical examination, a Pap test (Pap smear). It may also include an HPV test if you are 30 years old or older.
December is a time of year that we often worry about material things, like buying gifts, and get caught up on the “wants” instead of the “needs.” This holiday season, we ask that you consider donating life-saving cancer screenings to women across Louisiana who urgently need them.
Louisiana has the second highest breast cancer death rate in the country – mostly because women don’t have access to screening – but there is a statewide program that provides no-cost mammograms and which can help save those lives. And we need you to help us get the word out about it.