Wyandotte County leaders spread awareness about breast cancer - KCTV5

Wyandotte County leaders spread awareness about breast cancer

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More women are losing their lives to breast cancer in Wyandotte County than anywhere else in the country.  The national rate is 25 percent. Wyandotte county holds steady at 27 percent. More women are losing their lives to breast cancer in Wyandotte County than anywhere else in the country. The national rate is 25 percent. Wyandotte county holds steady at 27 percent.
WYANDOTTE COUNTY, KS (KCTV) -

More women are losing their lives to breast cancer in Wyandotte County than anywhere else in the country.

The national rate is 25 percent. Wyandotte county holds steady at 27 percent.

Since a KCTV5 News report last fall, community leaders are stepping up to save women in the county.

A task force made up of 30 community partners has one goal in mind - get more African-American women in Wyandotte County in for breast exams to save more lives.

They are nearly three times more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer than Caucasian women.

Three years ago, Yvette Miller found a lump under her right armpit. It was Stage 3 breast cancer. Her breast couldn't be saved, she had a mastectomy.

"I wasn't really given a choice, I had to," Miller said.

She endured chemotherapy and three painful reconstructive surgeries, but she survived.

"We have a lot of work to do," said Sharon Butler Payne, executive director of Art Bra KC.

Art Bra KC is a founding member of the Wyandotte County Breast Health Taskforce.

It found 39 percent of women in the county were not screened for the disease. The majority of which are African-American.

"One of the key reasons women are reluctant to go for screenings is they don't want to lose their breasts. They fear that as a part of that, they may even lose their partner," Payne said.

Getting screened can mean the difference between life or death or keeping a woman's breasts. Education and access to screenings is key.

In May, the taskforce meets with a group in Chicago, which used to have the highest rate of African-Americans losing their lives to breast cancer.

It got those numbers down in five years.

"When we focus on the strategy that is going to be built in Wyandotte County by this taskforce, the idea of that is going to be systemic and sustainable, but the crisis exists today," Payne said.

As the taskforce develops a plan, there are places women can go now to get screened for free.

Early Detection Works is available to help women without insurance. They can be reached at 913-205-0030.

They'll ask you simple questions to make sure you're eligible and also schedule your appointment.

Art Bra KC is developing an educational video that will focus on the need for early detection.

All too often, they hear stories of women not going in for screenings because they are too busy taking care of their children.

The video's message is early detection will allow them to be around for their children for the rest of their lives.

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