Program Helps Breast Cancer Patients

Forty-five-year-old Lena Holt is battling breast cancer.

"When I went in, I was already stage four and diagnosed terminal. So here, four months later, I'm a miracle. All my scans have come in. All my tumors have shrunk. God has decided He's not through with me yet," said Holt, who is a grandmother of six.

Since she was diagnosed at the end of June, she's gone through 12 sessions of chemotherapy.

Pointing to her grandson, she said, "This is the main reason I decided to do chemo, you know, these kids."

The braids she wears give her comfort. And so do the daily activities that keep her busy, like her arts and crafts and her garden.

She said, "It's a blessing to have other people that know what's going on in your life so that you don't feel like you're all alone."

Ebbie Starling, Holt's case manager, has been with her since her diagnosis.

"Lena has been very upbeat. She has been very positive and she has kind of encouraged me," said Starling, a registered nurse with the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program (BCCCP).

The program provides Medicaid funding for women ages 40-64 with breast cancer and who don't have health insurance. But women must get a breast exam and breast health education, before they receive their mammogram.

Starling reassured Holt, who agreed, "You know that cancer is not a death sentence. It doesn't have to be."

And that's the message both women are trying to get out: get checked early.

"Don't ignore it, like, I let it go entirely too long," said Holt.

Starling says she hopes more people will get screened for breast cancer, knowing they can get help from programs like the BCCCP. The program offers free screenings throughout the community and guides women from diagnosis through treatment and follow-up. For more information, call 903-877-7563.

Julie Tam, reporting.