Minnesota program helps women get free mammograms

5:53 PM, May 11, 2010   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Twin Cities Race for the Cure raised 2.5 million dollars this year. Some of the money will go to a local program that makes sure every woman can get an annual mammogram.  

It's called the Sage Screening Program.  It provides free mammograms for the uninsured and underinsured.


52-year-old Mary Kealy-Falk of Hopkins knows just how valuable the Sage Screening Program is.


When she became unemployed two years ago, Kealy-Falk said, "I wanted to be sure I at least kept up with my annual mammograms and thank goodness I did."


She called Sage, which is run by the Minnesota Department of Health, and got free mammograms in 2008 and 2009...


The mammogram she had this past December showed she had breast cancer.


Kealy-Falk said, "Thankfully, very, very thankfully it was detected very, very early."


Mary Manning with the Minnesota Department of Health said, "If a woman is diagnosed in an early stage the survival rate is about 95%."


Manning is nine-year breast cancer survivor herself, diagnosed at age 42, says one of the goals of the Sage Screening Program is to catch breast cancer early.


And she says the help from Sage doesn't stop there.  Manning said, "If they're diagnosed through our program they will be treated."


When Kealy-Falk got the diagnosis from Sage, "I said I don't know how I'm going to pay for my treatment.  And they said don't worry about it.  We'll get that taken care of for you."


Sage found funds to pay for Kealy-Falk's tests, lumpectomy and radiation which she just finished last month. 


It's hard for her as a mother and wife to imagine what would have happened if Sage hadn't been there for her.


She said, "I very possibly could have just decided I can't go in this year and get a screening.  And you know, knowing the results of my last screening, I don't know what that would have turned into as far as an outcome for me."


The Sage Screening Program offers free breast exams, mammograms and pap tests to eligible women, forty and older.


Sage services are available at more than 400 clinics and hospitals statewide.


The Sage Screening Program hotline is 1-888-6-HEALTH.


(Copyright 2010 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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