South Carolina has one of the highest breast cancer mortality rates, but SC DHEC is working to change that. Thanks to a new grant, more than 10,000 South Carolina women can now access preventative screenings: Many think they can't afford to get that care, doctors say they can't afford not to.
For diagnoses like cervical cancer and breast cancer, early detection can make the difference between a treatable disease and a death sentence.
"Women don't have to die if we detect this early," said Cherise Fretwell, a nurse practitioner at the Margaret J. Weston Health Center in Clearwater.
But, the lower a woman's income the lower her odds of screening and of survival.
"It gives me heartburn because we have adequate numbers of patients not receiving the proper screenings," explained Dr. Fred Worax.
"They think they can't afford it and they just don't know," Fretwell added.
Patients don't know that SC DHEC works with providers like them to provide free preventative care screenings and treatment to low-income women; all it takes is time:
"Taking maybe an hour or two for a screening versus finding something at a later stage and being taken down in a worse way because you can't function," Fretwell said.
So, if you're sitting on your couch, you haven't been screened, and you're cash-strapped, time-strapped, or scared, they have a message for you:
"I want to tell you I can help you," Dr. Worax said.
"You deserve it, you deserve to take care of you, for you, for your family. Just because you don't make a lot of money, doesn't mean you don't deserve the care," Fretwell added.
And "you" also means men:
"It is also the man sitting at home on the couch who is sitting at home on the couch and might have a family history and says, 'it couldn't happen to me,' we also offer help to those guys as well," Worax explained.
To find out more information about the free preventative cancer screenings through SC DHEC and South Carolina's Best Chance Network click here.
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