BRANSON, Mo. -- Since 1990, deaths from breast cancer in our country have dropped 30 percent, largely because of early detection through mammograms. A problem still exists for many people in the Ozarks, however: getting to the hospital to get that scan done.
While breast cancer awareness month is coming to a close, the need for mammograms for women is only increasing. Thanks to a rather unusual car, getting to mammograms will be much easier.
"I know I should have done this sooner or I'm sorry I waited so long in between," said Skaggs Mammographer Rachel Morgan, "I just couldn't afford it."
That's a reason heard often at the Women's Center at Skaggs Regional Medical Center. Thanks to help from area agencies getting that first mammogram has become easier. The financial aid allows women to get the lifesaving scan for free, but a problem still exists.
"In doing our research, not necessarily finding the finances to underwrite the screening but the access to the service -- that's where we saw the greatest need," said Skaggs Foundation President Rodney Arnold.
Women in Taney and Stone counties now have a helping hand -- a bright pink helping hand.
"For the women of this area, now they have no excuses. They have transportation possible. They've got the financing to have the screenings underwritten," said Arnold.
Skaggs teamed up with Branson Grayline to offer free rides to get mammograms.
"Women put themselves on the back burner," said Skaggs patient Angie Ann Makuch. "Family comes first, (then) job, career, husband, and they tend to forget about themselves. This is a great month to remind yourself. 'I have to do this. I have to do it for myself. I have to do it for my family.'"
The program just started. The hope is the program and its unique car will have more women thinking pink.
"It's exceptional important," said Makuch. "People are affected by breast cancer who are healthy, who are working out, who are smart, educated, it affects everyone."
"There are so many tools that, no matter what stage in the game that it is, there is a way to conquer it," said Morgan.
They have the mammograms covered for most women and now they have the transportation covered. Something they are still working towards is having follow-up procedures covered for women who need treatment after that mammogram. It's something they see as a great need.
The Skaggs Foundation is still looking for sponors. The plan is to raise money for the transportation services through the fall with the actual services beginning after the first of the calendar year. If you would like to help, call the Skaggs Foundation at (417) 348-8002 or send them a message at email@example.com.
So far the taxi is sponsored by Tanger Outlet Center, Metropolitan National Bank and Doug Baker – State Farm Insurance.