Beverly Erichsen of McPherson was able to afford cancer screenings through a local program funded through the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
Beverly Erichsen of McPherson had lost hope.
She had been diagnosed with breast cancer and lung cancer in 2008 and had been declared cancer free, but when 2011 came around, she lost her health insurance. Without the finances to pay for routine checkups and screenings, she had no way of knowing if it had come back.
The only escape from her financial barriers was Medicare that would kick in when she turned 65. Until then, she would just have to watch the clock.
"I went well over a year not knowing, and that's haunting," she said.
Then she heard of Early Detection Works. The program is available for Kansas women with low income who are 40 to 64 years of age and do not have health insurance.
Once she was determined eligible, which she discovered only about six weeks ago, she was able to receive funds to undergo a diagnostic mammogram and determined she is so far in the clear. If abnormalities would have been detected, the program would have paid for diagnostic procedures.
"Before I got to do this, I was scared to death, waiting and waiting until I turned 65," she said. "You lose hope and then you have hope. It's indescribable."
EDW, which has screened more than 20,000 Kansas women, provides financial aid under the umbrella of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. When support is raised, 75 percent goes toward research, and 25 percent goes back to local organizations like EDW.
Erichsen hopes McPherson can soon have a program like EDW, which operates out of Salina.
"I'm sure there are women in this community and surrounding areas that aren't having mammograms because of no insurance," Erichsen said. "It's so treatable when it's caught early. I want to communicate there is hope. It will save lives."
Those passionate about aiding cancer research can do their part to help those in need.
Erichsen has several friends who will be walking in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure for the second year in a row. Participants will walk 60 miles in three days Oct. 12 to 14 in Washington, D.C.
One team of four are Susan Souder of McPherson, daughter Shannan, Susan's sister Lynn West (a 25 -ear breast cancer survivor) and West's daughter Robin Lewis. They will each raise at least $2,500.
"It's a passion," Susan said.
Many of Susan's loved ones have suffered from cancer, including a best friend from high school, a brother, her husband and her sister-in-law.
"In a small way, the funds we're able to raise might help in their research," she said. "I just can't imagine there's anyone out there that hasn't been touched by cancer of some kind.
"This year might be the year they do find a cure. My ultimate hope is that, when that happens, that will spill over and what they find in research will also be able to help other kinds of cancers."
Susan and her daughter have been training all summer to participate, walking from three to 18 miles a day.
"It makes me feel so good to know people like her (Susan) are working so hard for people like us," Erichsen said.
To find out if you or someone you know can receive financial aid for cancer, contact Early Detection Works at 1-877-277-1368, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation at 1-877-465-6636, or the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345.