Spartanburg Regional Offers Free Mammograms to Women
Every woman deserves quality care when it comes to their health, but not everyone can afford it. More than 2 million women in the United States are breast cancer survivors, and breast cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer for women. The Bearden-Josey Center for Breast Health, part of Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System (SRHS), is working to increase the number of breast cancer survivors in the community by offering free mammograms through the Mammography Assistance Program.
Since the Mammography Assistance Program began at Bearden-Josey, late-stage diagnosis rates in the community have dropped from 16.2 percent in 2008 to 9.4 percent in 2013.
Women over 40 should have a mammogram screening every 12 months and the Mammography Assistance Program provides free mammograms to women in Spartanburg, Cherokee and Union counties who don’t have insurance and cannot afford a screening. Spartanburg, Union and Cherokee counties have some of the highest uninsured rates in South Carolina; drawing attention to the need for assistance for women in our area.
“According to the American Cancer Society, financial barriers are now the number one disparity facing women and delaying them from obtaining care,” said Jackie Foster, Manager of Mobile Mammography and Outreach Services at SRHS. “We want to eliminate that barrier to save more lives by diagnosing cancer sooner. We want to reduce the mortality rate. Delaying screenings and late-stage diagnosis is what leads to a higher mortality rate.”
When the Mammography Assistance Program expanded in 2010, the Bearden-Josey Center for Breast Health was receiving 100 phone calls day requesting assistance.
“That showed us there was a huge need in the community and we needed more funds to fulfill these needs,” Foster said. “We made a concentrated effort to secure dollars from the Spartanburg Regional Foundation and to look at fundraising opportunities.”
After securing donor dollars through the Spartanburg Regional Foundation, grants and the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute has seen a shift in late-stage diagnosis rates.
“We have built the most robust Mammography Assistance Program in the state of South Carolina,” Foster said. “We anticipate providing more than $170,000 worth of care this year. We don’t want people not to receive care because of an inability to pay.”
The Mammography Assistance Program helps women who may not have transportation with the Mobile Mammography Unit where women can be screened in their communities.
“The feedback we get is that these women are so grateful. Many of them say they didn’t realize people cared enough to help out anymore,” Foster said. “It’s great for the community. Of all the health issues in our area, women should not have to fear dying from breast cancer. They should know with early detection, it is treatable and survivable, and the Bearden-Josey Center is working to make that possible for all women in our service area.”
To schedule a mammogram, call 864-560-6144.