Making Strides Moment: How you can help in the fight

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By: Abby Walton | WCTV Eyewitness News
October 30, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The battle to find a cure for cancer is a 365 day fight.

But for some, there are extra worries. Finding a lump in their breast, knowing they don’t have the money or insurance to find out if it's cancer.

That's why two organizations are working together to make sure the resources are there to make health a top priority.

Anna Morales-Black beat breast cancer not once, but twice.

"I'm almost, thank you Lord, almost 10 years from my first diagnosis so I'm totally excited about life," Anna said.

But that wasn't always the case. Finding that first lump at 48-years old sent Anna into a panic.

"I didn't have health insurance. I didn't have a job that I can take time off cause if I didn't work, I didn't get paid and I had a young child to support," Anna said.

Anna, looking for help, found out she was eligible for the Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection program. It's known in Florida as the Mary Brogan program.

"They saved my life. Had I not had that, who knows how long it would've been before I was able to get the proper attention," Anna said.

Through federal and state funding, this program helps women like Anna, who don't have health insurance or money for a screening.

"I was able to get the mammogram. Then I was able to see a doctor. Because they cared, I'm here. Because they exist, I'm here,” Anna said.

Early detection is the reason Anna says she's alive today.

Advocating for groups like the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network. Its goal in Florida is to increase funding for programs like Mary Brogan.

"How that works is every year we start at $300,000, that's our reoccurring fund, and then we have to climb our way back up through non-reoccurring dollars which are very hard to get," said Matt Jordan with ACS CAN.

In 2017, volunteers took to the state capitol, helping raise that figure to a record $2.2 million.

"I've always had insurance and the time that I don't have insurance, this happens. But then there was something in place for me to take advantage of,” Anna said.

This program, the reason the Florida Department of Health's slogan is "No Excuses" when it comes to women getting screenings.

"We just don't leave you out there. If you have an abnormal result or need additional imaging or you need a colposcopy which are diagnostics, we assist with you getting these exams done," said Lynn Vinson with the Leon County Department of Health.

And if cancer is found, the program helps enroll you in Medicare to finance your treatment.

"I see women who are 25-year survivorship. I want to be there. I want to be there," Anna said.

Through the Mary Brogan program, lobbying with the Cancer Action Network and her deep faith, Anna's getting closer to her goal; spreading her gospel that early detection saves lives.

Again, cancer is a year-round fight. Each year, ACS CAN is making sure our state legislature keeps and increases these funds.

But they need your help. To learn more about getting involved with the Cancer Action Network, click here.

For the Mary Brogan program, there are some requirements. To learn more about that, go to your community health center or click here.

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