The State Department of Health is highlighting the importance of breast cancer prevention. Tallahassee healthcare providers hosted the seventh annual pink celebration to raise awareness. Healthcare workers were on hand to provide screenings and information.
Survivor Trasetta Alexander came before a crowd of pink-clad supporters Wednesday to share her story. Alexander emphasized the importance of early detection, and says it made a difference in her own diagnosis.
“It’s so important, my story could’ve gone so much more differently had I not been diagnosed early. Had I just said, oh well I’ve had millions of cysts pop up before, it’s just gonna go away, and I don’t have to worry about it,” she said.
In Leon County, breast cancer incidence is highest among white women, but mortality rates are highest among African American women. The Department of Health’s Claudia Blackburn says there should be equal access to treatment.
“We certainly want to level the playing field and make sure that African American women and all women have access to preventive services, early detection services, and treatment,” she said.
The DOH’s Early Detection Program provides health screenings to low income women ages 50-64 who are uninsured. Financial insecurity, lack of transportation and cultural factors can impact a woman’s ability to seek treatment. The program’s Shaundra Buggs says it takes care of women who might not get healthcare elsewhere.
“It’s amazing when you see a woman, that lightbulb goes off in their head, like ok there is help for me. There’s nothing worse than being a woman who is a nurturer and a provider for their family and see them suffering. Because of the disparity of no transportation, no money, no funding,” she said.
While the Early Detection Program screens women over 50, the incidence of breast cancer in younger women is on the rise. According to the CDC, about 11% of all new breast cancer cases are found in women younger than 45.