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BCFO works to bridge gap in care with new program

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Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks is looking to address a gap in care with a new pilot program for people under the age of 35.

Dubbed U-35, the program will cover the costs of diagnostic mammograms, ultrasounds and biopsies for those uninsured or underinsured in that age range, according to a news release. The nonprofit is partnering with CoxHealth and Mercy on the initiative.

“There is a dangerous and potentially deadly misconception that breast cancer doesn’t happen to people under 35 – but it does, and it appears to be a growing problem,” said Kathryn Wall, director of community engagement for BCFO, in the release. “We are so grateful to CoxHealth and Mercy Springfield partnering with us so we can help break down barriers to cancer care.”

In the week since signing formal agreements to start U-35, two people under 35 years old have called in need of services, according to BCFO officials. In 2021, participants under the age of 35 in BCFO's programming grew to 5% from 1%-2% in previous years.

“This is going to be a magnificent program for patients in our community, especially since there hasn’t been any funding for those 35 and under,” said Susan Smith, manager of CoxHealth’s Breast Care Clinic, in the release.

To illustrate the gap in care, the release pointed to a state program called Show Me Healthy Women that covers breast cancer diagnosis costs for women who are 35 and older.

BCFO raised nearly $9,000 through a crowdfunding campaign last year, which, along with a $30,000 donation, is initially financing the program, Wall said via email. During the first year of the program, the nonprofit expects to serve 22 people at an estimated cost of $24,200, she said, and the organization is seeking additional funds to continue the program in the future.

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