Our mission at the Louisiana Prevention and Control Programs (LCP) is to “eliminate suffering and death in Louisiana by focusing on cancers that can be prevented or detected early and cured. “

                Breast cancer is one of those cancers. And it’s the one we have been working on the longest, with our Louisiana Breast and Cervical Health Program (LBCHP) offering no-cost mammograms and Pep tests to Louisiana women who qualify (low-income women who are uninsured or underinsured) since 2002. Over time, LBCHP has helped raise what was Louisiana’s once abysmal screening rate to the national average, and has also been credited with helping drop the breast cancer death rate. However, that rate has only dropped from being the worst in the nation to the second worst, demonstrating what a long way we still have to go.

                At this time, LBCHP currently only reaches about 10 percent of the state’s eligible population. And though the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion are also now helping women get breast cancer screenings, there are still barriers for women to overcome in order to get those mammograms. Sometimes, it’s an issue of not having a mammogram facility in the area, as many people in rural Louisiana can attest. Sometimes, it’s not having available transportation or child care. For these reasons and others, LBCHP’s main funder, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has expanded LBCHP’s mission to help navigate women who make up to 250 percent of the poverty line, complete their screenings, even if that means helping meet a co-pay.  And that means more women than ever are eligible for LBCHP’s services, from the single woman who makes up to $29,700 a year or a woman in a four-person annual household with an income of $60,750. (For exact eligibility requirements, go tohttp://lbchp.org/program-eligibility/.)        

                But LBCHP is not the only resource LCP offers to women dealing with breast cancer. About 11 percent of all new breast cancer cases affect women under the age of 45, and many of those women live in the Gulf States, as black women are particularly vulnerable to getting breast cancer at a younger age. What’s more, these young women face different issues than older women getting the disease, as they must make decisions regarding their fertility options before starting treatment, as well as deal with relationship and career concerns that often don’t have the same impact on older women. There are also genetic implications that must be addressed, as they can have an effect on everything from what type of treatment a woman should get to what dangers it might present to others in her family – including the men.

                That’s why LCP offers online support and resources to young breast cancer survivors at SurviveDAT (www.survivedat.org). As part of the larger Gulf States Young Breast Cancer Survivor Network (along with SurviveMISS in Mississippi and SurviveAL in Alabama),  SurviveDAT provides advice from experts, stories and counsel from other survivors, and national, state and local resources that can help a woman as she deals with her cancer. SurviveDAT’s social media platforms also provide regular news and ways for young breast cancer survivors – and the people who love them – to interact.

                LBCHP and SurviveDAT are two of LCP’s main breast cancer efforts, but are not the only ones. To keep up with what we’re doing, be sure to follow us on our social media platforms and to visit our website from time to time. Remember a majority of cancers can be beat – you just have to know how. And that’s why we’re here.

-   Laura Ricks, LCP Communications Manager

AuthorJoseph Gautier