As we “spring forward” past the celebration of Women’s History Month, Birmingham On the Cheap reflects on its continued mission: to connect Birmingham citizens to free and discounted resources to live their best lives, and thrive, not just survive.
In honor of women in our community who are breast cancer survivors, and in remembrance of those who have passed on from this devastating disease, this story is for you…
The American Cancer Society marks cancer as the second leading cause of death in the United States. (1) Sadly, it is also the 2nd leading cause of death among women, irrespective of ethnicity.
However, an assortment of disparities discourages many women from getting tested at all, which can ultimately prove to be detrimental. The good news is that accessibility to early detection and help to get to treatments are available to women in Alabama who fall at or below 250% of the Federal Poverty Level.
Cancer is an enemy you can’t ignore.
The vast percentage of mothers, teachers, essential workers, and business owners in our community could be one of the over 30,000 who will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in 2021, with over one-third of those diagnosed expected to succumb to the disease according to American Cancer Society estimates. (2)
Although women can often ignore their own well-being as they become overwhelmed with responsibilities at home and work, Birmingham comedienne and author Carla “The Truth” Youngblood knows all too well the value of self-examination and following up with testing and proper diagnosis.
“The area in my chest felt more like it was swollen rather than the usual lump most people feel,” wrote Youngblood in her 2019 book, Cancer Ain’t Funny! Laugh Anyway. “I finally decided it was hurting bad enough to receive some attention.”
Through Youngblood’s comedic lenses, the reader shares her journey of self-diagnosis, cancer screenings, and treatments in waves of laughable moments, anecdotes, and jabs. However, it is clear that the first step to surviving cancer as Youngblood has is through early detection and necessary cancer treatment.
The Alabama Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (ABCCEDP) has an array of free breast and cervical cancer screenings for women who meet eligibility guidelines. These services can include a pelvic exam, pap smear, clinical breast exam, mammogram, and diagnostic services such as an ultrasound, colposcopy, or biopsy if needed.
Women can check eligibility guidelines here, then contact ABCCEDP by calling toll-free at 1-877-252-3324, their local county health department (for Jefferson County Department of Health, call 205-588-5234), or dialing “2-1-1” so you may receive help locating community resources available in your area.
In addition to getting screened, a large component of this battle is acquiring the necessary lodging to get to the care and treatments needed. UAB’s O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center announced on March 1, 2021, that it has received funding from the American Cancer Society to address disparities in access to care.
Disparities predominantly arise from inequities in work, wealth, income, education, housing, and overall standard of living, as well as social barriers to high-quality cancer prevention, early detection and treatment services,” said Maryhelen Kirkpatrick, executive director of the American Cancer Society. “The Society collaborates with community health partners to reach individuals in areas with higher burdens of cancer and limited or no access to lodging because even the best treatment can’t work if a patient can’t get there.(3)
UAB’s O’Neal Center is the only hospital in the state of Alabama to receive this grant.
If you or someone you know have self-diagnosed a lump or is experiencing unusual pain in the chest, contact the ABCCEDP today and inquire about the resources available to assist in your journey to wellness. After all, health is wealth, and we want you to thrive, not just survive!
- UAB News, Health & Medicine, “O’Neal Cancer Center at UAB receives American Cancer Society grant to help patients overcome lodging barriers in Birmingham,” Pope, Adam.