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Sequester: Funding for free cancer screenings could be cut

Posted at: 03/07/2013 10:43 PM
Updated at: 03/07/2013 11:36 PM
By: Lynette Adams

News10NBC has been talking about the impending effects of the automatic federal spending cuts known as the 'sequester'. And Some local programs are now beginning to hear how these cuts will impact their services and more directly, how they will effect you.  One of those programs is saying these cuts could mean fewer life saving cancer screenings for women.

Last year hundreds of women were able to get screened for breast and cervical cancer. 

Money from the Federal Government made it possible for every women to receive care even if she didn't have insurance or couldn't pay. These cuts could now mean no insurance, no services.

Megan Mackenzie of Rochester was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007. She says she found a lump through a self exam and immediately sought help.

“The only way I can describe it is I went to hell and came back.”

Mackenzie's quick action may have saved her life. Her cancer was aggressive. In 12 weeks, she says it went from stage one, the most curable form of breast cancer, to stage 4.

“I went through surgery, had a mastectomy and then from there went through 8 rounds of chemotherapy, 42 rounds of radiation and it was quite the long process.  Almost took a full year for me to complete my treatments,” said  Mackenzie.

Thanks to self exams and screenings like the ones provided at the Cancer Services Program of Monroe County, Mackenzie found her cancer early. The Cancer Services Program provides everything from screenings, to diagnosis, to treatment. Even for women who don't have insurance and can't pay for these services.

Candice Lucas heads the program housed at the University of Rochester’s Center for Community Health.

“Last year we were able to help more than 1,400 women get screened,” said Lucas.

She's nervous. Her program is federally funded, and she says she's received word it could be on the chopping block. She says it could mean half of the women served last year, won't get the help in the coming year.

“Breast cancer, we know one in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer. But we can find it early, and if you find early the chance of survival is greatly increased,” said Lucas. “If we're not able to pay for these screenings for women that are uninsured more than likely they're not going to get screened.”

And that's worrisome to people like Mackenzie, who says one single test can be the difference between life and death.

“Right now were all going to feel the crunch of lots of programs being cut. But when it comes to somebody's life, that's a bitter pill to swallow and we shouldn't put up with that.”

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter's office says she has not changed her stance on the sequester, asking her colleagues to put an end to it, saying, it's not only devastating to programs like this, but the economy as a whole.

We've also put in requests in to our other elected officials, and we'll bring you those responses to you as well.

If you'd like more information on Cancer Services Program, you can call 585-224-3070.