By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News
October is breast cancer awareness month and the Alabama Department of Public Health, in partnership with the Joy to Life Foundation, is expanding free breast cancer screenings statewide to underserved women.
The ADPH’s Alabama Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program funding was previously limited to just south Alabama, but as funding in north Alabama became needed, the Joy to Life Foundation offered to expand its efforts.
“We are very appreciative of our longstanding partnership with the Joy to Life Foundation and to its co-founders Joy and Richard Blondheim,” said State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris in a press release.
“Early detection of breast cancer through regular screening saves lives,” Harris said. “The Foundation’s commitment to helping underserved women receive cancer screenings has saved more than 125 lives over the last 17 years. By expanding their coverage statewide, they will help us ensure as many women as possible receive life-saving cancer screenings.”
The early detection program provides free mammograms, Pap/HPV testing, and if needed, diagnostic testing to women who have no insurance, have an income at or below 250% of the poverty level and are age 40-64. If there is a diagnosis of cancer, most women are eligible to receive treatment through the Alabama Medicaid Agency.
So far the program has helped diagnose 3,000 women since the program began in 1996.
In addition to providing funds to the program, the foundation also assists women under age 40 who are at high risk or have symptoms of breast cancer.
The ADPH encourages women to get cancer screenings as early as possible and to continue with regular screenings, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Blondheims, of Montgomery, founded Joy to Life in 2001. Joy Blondheim is a breast cancer survivor.
Funding is needed in north Alabama since the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Inc. North Central Alabama affiliate ceased operations in April.
“As the Joy to Life Foundation has done for 20 years, we will continue to work tirelessly every single day to provide the lifesaving screenings that every woman in Alabama needs and deserves,” Joy Blondheim said in a statement.
To learn more about the Joy to Life Foundation, go here.
To find out whether you, a family member or friend qualify for the early detection program, call 1-877-252-3324.