The Race for the Cure in Vinoy Park is a beautiful thing. The view, the energy, and the passion bring people back year after year to participate in our celebration of survivorship and to help us work towards a cure. But is it really possible for a $30 registration fee to help end breast cancer? What exactly does the money do?
Sherrl Fry can tell you exactly how important that $30 is. She is the Project Director for the Mammography Voucher Program, or MVP, the Affiliate’s screening program grantee for Pinellas County. MVP provides screening services for 900 medically underserved residents of Pinellas County each year. Not only do women (and men) receive mammograms and any recommended diagnostic services, but if a client is diagnosed with breast cancer, the treatment is also covered because of MVP’s partnerships with Baycare Health Systems and Bayfront Medical Center. Clients are followed throughout the process by the Mammography Voucher Program staff, Baycare breast health navigators, and clients’ medical team to make sure they receive the care they need, are kept informed of treatment choices, and most importantly, are treated like a person and not just a number. Everyone involved in the care of the client works to not only provide support but also to ensure that the client’s physical, mental, and emotional needs are met.
A lot of women may pass up an opportunity to get screened through MVP because the program is free. There is a stigma around free programs, and women worry that they won’t receive the same level of care as a paying customer. But through the partnerships MVP has with community healthcare leaders, women who access services through MVP receive the same quality of care that women with insurance expect. Each year the program has a large number of women who return for annual screening services. Despite being uninsured, these women have made their health a priority and seek the services that MVP has to offer. They know that regular screening means early detection of breast cancer, which means that the cancer has a better chance of responding to treatment. In fact, when caught early, breast cancer has a 98% 5-year survival rate.
So, as you wait to begin the Race this October 1st, perhaps more than a little un-caffeinated and somewhat blinded by the rising sun, keep in mind that you a running/walking for a cause. Your $30 is helping to provide mammograms for women who would otherwise not have access to breast health services that are recommended for women over age 40. Programs like MVP ensure that women who are screened through MVP and are diagnosed will receive the treatment they need to survive. Together, we are making an impact on how breast cancer affects our community.