Wisconsin native Alisa Berndt feels grateful her insurance covered part of her treatment expenses when she was diagnosed with stage 2 invasive lobular carcinoma in 2020.
“I’m not the type of person that does mammograms all the time,” Alisa said. “I hadn’t had one in two years, and I was about to go see my primary care doctor for my annual physical. I thought I better get my mammogram so he wouldn’t be upset with me for skipping them, and that’s how we figured out that I had breast cancer. They saw a calcification on my mammogram.”
Alisa underwent a lumpectomy and radiation treatments, and her diagnostic mammogram the following year showed no signs of breast cancer. Her doctor recommended Alisa continue having annual diagnostic mammograms, which aren’t covered by her insurance company. High medical debt from her cancer treatments meant she couldn’t afford her annual diagnostic mammogram this year.
Alisa turned to Susan G. Komen for help. She called the Breast Care Helpline and applied for a voucher from Komen’s Screening & Diagnostics Program to cover the cost of her diagnostic mammogram. The Screening & Diagnostics program provides income-eligible people with no-cost screening and diagnostic services like the diagnostic mammogram Alisa needed.
“I had to stop and think about what I was going to do. I called Susan G. Komen and was told that I could apply to see if they would pay for the diagnostic mammogram. I was very fortunate because, without Susan G. Komen, I wouldn’t have had my mammogram this year. I can’t afford it. Just because somebody has insurance doesn’t mean they can pay out-of-pocket for mammograms.”
Regular screening tests, such as mammograms, reduce the chance of dying from breast cancer. A screening mammogram is the most effective screening test used today to find breast cancer in most women. A diagnostic mammogram is like a screening mammogram, but more images of the breast are taken to examine abnormal findings more closely.
If Alisa has normal results from her next diagnostic mammogram, she will return to having annual screening mammograms, which are covered under her insurance.
“I tried to explain to my doctors that I can’t keep paying to have diagnostic mammograms every year,” Alisa said. “If I had a second income coming in and I wasn’t paying off medical debt, things would be different for me. I don’t qualify for any type of Medicaid. I try my best and do my best. I am grateful Susan G. Komen was able to help me when I needed it.”
The Screening & Diagnostics Program is part of the suite of services offered through Komen’s Patient Care Center. Komen is focused on ensuring all people receive the care they need through the Patient Care Center, which seeks to remove barriers and serve as a dedicated breast care partner, helpful guide and support resource throughout the breast health care journey.
The Patient Care Center supported nearly 26,000 people last year through the Breast Care Helpline, Screening & Diagnostics Program, Financial Assistance Program and Patient Navigation. People can access the Patient Care Center by calling or emailing the Breast Care Helpline to receive breast health information and access to resources, like the Komen Screening & Diagnostics Program.
“I would encourage people to keep up on their mammograms and know that you can get help through Susan G. Komen to pay for it if you can’t afford it,” Alisa said. “I’m very fortunate that I actually kept up on my mammograms.”
Komen’s Helpline specialists are available to breast cancer patients and their loved ones connect to needed services, resources and information about applying for a mammogram voucher through the Screening & Diagnostics program. Call 1-877-GO-KOMEN or email firstname.lastname@example.org to connect with a specialist. The Susan G. Komen Screening & Diagnostic Program is available to provide financial support for breast cancer screening and diagnostic services for residents of the following metropolitan areas: Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Fort Worth, Texas; Houston, Texas; Madison, Wisconsin; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Washington, D.C.; and Virginia Beach, Virginia. The Helpline can help people outside these areas identify other potential resources.
Statements and opinions expressed are that of the individual and do not express the views or opinions of Susan G. Komen. This information is being provided for educational purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice. Persons with breast cancer should consult their healthcare provider with specific questions or concerns about their treatment.