Early detection can mean Life or Death for Women with Breast Cancer

I attended the amazing Faces of Fullerton event yesterday and learned about some of the great organizations that we have in Orange County.  My favorite was the YWCA booth where I took some time to speak with Diane Masseth-Jones who is the Executive Director of the North Orange County chapter of the YWCA.

The YWCA of North Orange County provides free early detection exams for women over forty who do not have health insurance. This is so very important since according to the American Cancer Society, those who are uninsured are more likely to be diagnosed in the later stages of cancer.

The breast cancer analysis showed that just 8% of women with private insurance had stage III or IV breast cancer at diagnosis, compared to 18% of uninsured women and 19% of women on Medicaid. Advanced stage disease was also more commonly diagnosed in African-American and Hispanic women compared to white women.


This is why it is so important to have early screening for those highest at risk regardless if they have health insurance. The cost to treat later stages of cancer are more expensive as well as far less likely to work. And the lack of health insurance usually means less access to newer and more effective treatments. It literally can mean the difference between life and death.

“If you are uninsured, and you are diagnosed with cancer, you have a 60 percent greater chance of dying from cancer than if you were insured and diagnosed with cancer,” said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the cancer society.

“There is not a cohort of insured and a cohort of uninsured cancer patients that have the same five-year survival,” Brawley added. “It’s always the uninsured who do worse.”


I have a hard time stomaching the idea that if someone can’t afford health care or even insurance it guarantees a different standard of care. I can understand something like the kind of house you can afford or the car you drive, but when it comes to something like health care, it’s the moral responsibility of our society to insure that people don’t fall through the proverbial cracks. Statistics like that are meant for third world nations not an industrialized nation like the United States.

The YWCA of North Orange County is providing the kind of services that many of us might take for granted but it’s so important. They not only provide the early screening but they also provide outreach programs so that cultural or language differences don’t mean a death sentence for those women who don’t understand the importance of early detection.

Early Breast Cancer Screening & Education

  • Breast Cancer Early Detection Services. Uninsured women ages 40 and above can call the YWCA-NOC and receive free Breast Health Services that include mammograms, clinical breast exams, and breast self exam education and training. More than 140 screenings were scheduled for the 2007/2008 year throughout Orange County, and we anticipate screening some 5,000 women. For a copy of our monthly screening calendar, please call Rebecca Braun, our Program Director, at 714 871-4488, ext.207.
  • Breast Self Exam Workshops. We offer free Breast Self Exam (BSE) workshops to women’s groups, churches, community groups and in the community at large. This one-hour program helps women understand why BSE is important and how to correctly complete a BSE. Early detection saves lives! Programs are presented in English, Korean, Spanish and Vietnamese. To request a workshop, call Rebecca Braun, our Program Director, at 714 871-4488, ext.207.


The Faces of Fullerton is brought to you by the Fullerton Collaborative (www.fullertoncollaborative.org), an amazing organization serving Fullerton by bringing together Non-profits, businesses and residents to improve the quality of life for all.  I am just so impressed by this organization and its ability to bring people together for the greater good of their community.

  2 comments for “Early detection can mean Life or Death for Women with Breast Cancer

  1. Northcountystorm
    April 28, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Heather, great post.

  2. April 28, 2008 at 11:34 am

    NCS – Thank you, your comment is greatly appreciated.

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