Documentary sheds light on paying to rid cancer

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Never give up hope! That's the message of a film that highlights breast cancer and patients without health insurance.

The HBO movie called "The Education of Dee Dee Ricks" focuses on the challenge women face with no insurance. Rick's who is a very wealthy woman is diagnosed with breast cancer.

She decides to document her experience, but through it she quickly realizes there's a bigger issue at hand. As she starts receiving her medical bills, $5,000 here, $3,000 there with no insurance, she wonders how women who aren't making millions a year or women without insurance are making these payments. She soon learns many aren't and they are dying.

When you think of breast cancer many of us think pink, the Race for the Cure, and if caught early enough there's a 98 percent survival rate. But what if I told you these statistics don't apply to women with low incomes, or no insurance.  "Just because you can't afford screening and treatment does not mean you should die in this community," said Lakenzise Mayberry with Susan G Komen.

That is why Mayberry and organizers with the Alabama Breast and Cervical Early Detection Program are teaming up, highlighting this often un-talked about issue.

Rebecca DePiazza is just one survivor speaking out for women who are under- insured or uninsured all together.  DePiazza was only 24-years-old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. "It wasn't at all what my plan for my life was at that point," said DePiazza.

While DePiazza doesn't have an easy road ahead, she did have something many women don't, a full time job and insurance. "It didn't matter if I missed a day of work, but when you are working for minimum wage or part time and don't have benefits you experience a whole different set of circumstances. Women when they are fighting this disease have to focus on getting yourself well," said DePiazza.

Not worrying where the money will come from. Not asking the question, can I afford that pill?

As women in the audience watched the documentary, many were nodding their heads as if to say I've been there.

In Alabama, it's estimated more than 3,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. And how many will actually get the treatment they need is still unclear.

"Right now the state only has one dedicated program to ensure that women get screens and treatments if there's something wrong," said Mayberry.

And like most programs in the state, money is drying up. "We have six more months in the fiscal year and there could be thousands of women who don't get that screening, that are eligible for the screening, and need that screening and the program is in threat of closing," said DePiazza.

Organizers encourage people to write your state legislators letting them know the importance of not cutting these programs.

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