SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks wants you to know it provides free mammogram vouchers for the uninsured and underinsured in Missouri.
Director of Community Engagement Kathryn Wall says most people are unaware of BCFO’s free services, so the group is on a mission to let the public know.
Wall and CEO Joe Daues often conduct “road shows” in smaller towns to spread breast cancer awareness and encourage locals to complete the appropriate screenings. Wall said BCFO, founded in 1999, has good brand recognition in the Springfield area, but the group hopes to spread awareness of its free screenings to more rural areas.
“If there is a barrier, we want to make sure we are helping people get these important tests,” Wall said. “These should be annual tests. Unfortunately, with breast cancer we can’t necessarily prevent it. Early detection is one of our best tools to ensure someone catches the disease early and can have their best shot at returning to normalcy.”
BCFO covers 37 counties in four states, with 27 of those counties located in Missouri. The group has contracts with most major hospitals in the Show-Me State, and once a voucher is redeemed at a hospital, that facility then sends a bill to BCFO.
As COVID-19 has been at the forefront of many minds over the past two years, BCFO has seen fewer mammogram vouchers being redeemed, and Wall says they’re trying to change that.
“We are reminding people to get back into that habit,” she said. “It’s something that kind of fell to the wayside, and we have seen fewer people going in and getting mammograms and doing that annual test. People need to get back into that habit.”
BCFO recommends women begin scheduling screenings once they turn 40 years old, but sooner if they have a family history of breast cancer. Wall says people should be aware of things like an unexplained rash, inverted nipples or lumps in the breast tissue.
“It’s something to be aware of – doing self-checks and being aware of your body. If there is a lump that shows up in breast tissue, don’t ignore that. It’s definitely something to talk to your doctor about.”
BCFO emphasizes that despite common misconception, men also are at risk for breast cancer, especially if there is a family history of it. Wall says about 1 in 800 men get diagnosed with breast cancer, and she says BCFO has seen plenty of male patients.
BCFO also provides support for local individuals and families who are facing an existing breast cancer diagnosis. The group offers non-medical financial assistance such as rental and mortgage payments, utilities, gas cards and more for those struggling with medical payments. A children’s fund has also been set up to provide gift cards for the holidays along with daycare services.
For those interested in a free mammogram screening voucher, online applications can be found here.