LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and News 18 is committed to help spread awareness. Every Monday in October, we'll be reporting stories of survivors, treatment and new research.
To begin our series of stories, we're taking a look at the Women's Cancer Program at the YWCA in Lafayette. Serving 23 counties, the program provides help to roughly one third of the state. The program is saving lives and improving the quality of life for those battling the disease.
"We're just fortunate that we're here to help," said YWCA Executive Director Debi DeBruyn.
The Women's Cancer Program provides a variety of services to those affected by cancer in our community. Say you're currently without insurance or your insurance doesn't pay for preventative procedures like mammograms. That's where the Y steps in to help.
Last year, 2400 women were screened for cancer through its program. Out of that 2400, 50 were diagnosed with cancer (32 with breast cancer, 18 with cervical cancer).
"Did we save their lives? I'd like to say, yes we did, because if we weren't able to provide the services that we did I have to believe the outcome probably wouldn't have been as favorable," said DeBruyn.
The medical help is the most important function of the Women's Cancer Program but the program does even more. Volunteers help with non-medical needs such as providing transportation to and from doctor's appointments for example. The YWCA also hosts a cancer support group, started by two women 23 years ago.
"We hope that this will empower women," said co-founder of the group, Jo Honig.
Honig said the group began with six women but at times is as large as 100. The group shares their experiences but also educates and informs with guest speakers and panel discussions. We sat in on Mary Mills' first support group meeting.
"I just think community is really important," she said when asked why she decided to attend a meeting.
Mills said she joined the group not just to get support for herself but also to support others.
"People can give you suggestions on how they dealt with things and that gives you some ideas to ponder," she told News 18.
The YWCA Women's Cancer Program is supported through grants and donations as well as fundraisers. More money raised equals more screenings for women who might not have access otherwise. That leads to more lives saved right here in the Greater Lafayette area.
Find out more about the Women's Cancer Program via the YWCA website . You can also call 765-742-4375 to find out if you are eligible for a free pap test or mammogram.
About the YWCA Women's Cancer Program:
The YWCA Women's Cancer Program strives to eliminate inequities in health care experienced by many women by removing barriers to access and promoting effective community-based outreach, education and referrals to appropriate clinical services.
The program provides free screenings for breast and cervical cancers, including mammograms, breast ultrasounds, biopsies, Pap tests, pelvic exams and colposcopies. The program serves women in Tippecanoe County and 22 other Indiana counties: Benton, Boone, Carroll, Cass, Clay, Clinton, Fountain, Greene, Hamilton, Howard, Jasper, Miami, Montgomery, Newton, Parke, Pulaski, Sullivan, Tipton, Vermilion, Vigo, Warren and White.
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