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Every woman counts

Posted: February 10, 2010 10:15 p.m.
Updated: February 11, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 
My breast cancer was found accidentally at the age of 37.

I felt a lump I knew in my heart was not dangerous. The tests were ordered and my instinct was correct about that lump.

But the tests discovered a sizable tumor on the other side and in my lymph nodes — masses neither me nor my doctor could feel.

I had an aggressive type of breast cancer — stage 3. The tests saved my life.

In January the Every Woman Counts program that screens 350,000 underserved women in California annually closed its doors and won’t resume screenings until July. When the program reopens, women under 50 will not be served.  

This saves a few bucks — just one half of 1 percent — having little impact on California’s massive budget deficit but having a devastating impact on the women who will die as a result.

When breast cancer is detected early, the five-year survival rate is 98 percent. The lack of regular screening leads to late-stage diagnosis (like mine) when treatment is more expensive and survival is less certain.  

Because of my age (under 40), I was denied routine screening; now my treatment has surpassed the $250,000 mark.

More cuts are likely. California may eliminate the program that provides breast cancer treatment for low-income women, leaving 9,000 women with breast cancer no treatment options.

There are women on the front lines of our troubled economy who will lose their jobs and their insurances. One in eight will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Balancing the budget shouldn’t come at a cost of risking their lives. Why are we turning our backs on women in our state when they need us the most?

Every woman counts to me — do they count to you?

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