Early detection, screenings important in breast cancer survivorship

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Contributed by State Rep. Debbie Hamby Wood

State Rep. Debbie Hamby Wood is working during October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, to raise awareness for the need for early detection and screening programs across Alabama in fighting this disease.

“Thousands of Alabamians will be hearing about the importance of early detection and preventive cancer screenings this month,” said Wood in a statement. “As a breast cancer survivor myself, I know firsthand how important early detection is to survivorship and how crucial these conversations are. Still, we don’t talk nearly enough about adequate access to these life-saving screenings.

“Our state-funded breast and cervical cancer screening program has been the difference between life and death for so many, providing services for uninsured and underinsured women through our state health department that otherwise would likely not have had access.

“In particular, the Alabama Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program has seen continued success in bridging the health gap in communities across the state, particularly for our rural areas like Lee and Chambers County.

“Five years ago, I felt a knot in my breast and a lurking feeling in my gut. Instinctively, I knew something was wrong and visited the doctor to receive my mammogram exam. Despite the difficult process that took place before and after my mammogram, receiving a timely screening was something I took for granted.

“The economic impact of COVID-19 on working-class families makes our ability to provide free and affordable access for breast and cervical cancer screenings even more critical than in years before. In fact, with hundreds of screenings delayed due to the pandemic, it’s imperative that funding and screening access remain a top priority as we consider the longer-term effects of the pandemic this upcoming session.

“We need to prioritize funding for breast cancer screenings and make sure all women have access. Even in the face of a public health crisis, we can’t risk losing the progress we’ve made in reducing breast cancer rates.

“I’ll never stop fighting for other women — with the same fervency as I handled my own diagnosis. Breast and cervical cancer rates won’t relent in the face of COVID-19 and neither can we.

“Our state-funded programs are a reliable foundation on which to continue saving lives and reducing the cancer burden. I’m committed to providing Alabama families with safe and affordable opportunities to prevent and detect disease whenever possible, and I hope my fellow legislators are too.”

Rep. Debbie Wood is a breast cancer survivor and legislator in the Alabama House of Representatives, District 38. She represents Chambers and Lee County.

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