LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — When it comes to women getting breast cancer screenings, Arkansas is ranked one of the lowest states in the country, but the Department of Health said it doesn’t have to be this way.
The Department of Health said the state ranks low because of a handful of things. It could be lack of access, fear, the cost of care, or just a general unawareness of how important these screenings are.
But doctors and cancer survivors say the time to get screened is now and there is help along the way.
Breast cancer survivor Jana Pierson had gotten screenings most of her adult life.
But a tragedy in the family caused her to put it off for a while, and then — more terrible news.
She had stage three breast cancer.
“It didn’t really dawn on me until the day that my oncologist, she said, well what do you want to do?,” Pierson said. “I said, well I don’t want to die.'”
Chemotherapy, radiation and months of treatment, but finally, she’s cured.
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, one in eight women will develop breast cancer. It’s the second leading cause of death among women.
But the Department of Health wants women to know help is there.
The state’s “Breast Care” program offers no-cost screenings and follow-up services for women who are uninsured or underinsured, and it’s all about early detection.
“It could have gotten worse and I might not have made it,” said breast cancer survivor Dr. Fran Kelley.
“Cancers found early, early stagers, have over 90 percent survival,” said Dr. Appathurai Bala with the Department of Health.
Doctors and survivors agree — women must prioritize their health.
“We want women to be as passionate about their health, their own health, as that of their spouse, of their children,” Dr. Bala said.
“You just have to do it,” Pierson said. “It’s so important for your life and for those around you that love you so much.”
The Department of Health said they partner with local hospitals that send out mobile screening units to rural parts of the state.
To learn more about how to get screened, visit the Department of Health BreastCare program website.