CENTRAL LAKE – Mary Everett had already survived breast cancer once. She knew the importance of regular mammograms, and continued getting them. "I didn't believe I'd get it again," she recalled.
But in February 2013, Everett, 62, received the terrifying news that another small tumor had been found. She did not feel the lump. She had no health insurance, and was referred to the Health Department of Northwest Michigan's Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program (BCCCP) for assistance.
The Health Department partners with Antrim County High Tea--a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping eligible Antrim County women get the preventive services they need--to provide screening and follow-up, at no charge. Antrim County High Tea also covers transportation costs by providing gasoline cards through the Health Department.
After a lumpectomy, lymph node removal and four months of chemotherapy, Everett is now finishing her radiation treatment. She said the early detection of her tumor offered her an excellent chance at recovery, and is grateful for the Health Department's help in getting insurance to cover her treatment. "Without it, I would not be able to afford to get treated," she said, adding that she had to make frequent trips between Central Lake and Petoskey for treatment. "The gas cards are a great help."
As October--Breast Cancer Awareness Month--draws to a close, Everett has some advice for those who may be hesitant about getting a mammogram. "Don't put it off!" she said.
"The earlier you catch it, the easier to treat it… So many people I know have experienced it. My sister Nancy had it and survived. I was her support, and now, she's mine."
To learn more about the Health Department's Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program, and its partnership with Antrim County High Tea, visit www.nwhealth.org or www.antrimcountyhightea.org.
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego Counties. Call (800) 432-4121 for more information or to schedule a mammogram.