Cancer Screening mobile unit comes to Central Louisiana
A major component of The Rapides Foundation’s new Cancer Screening Project is literally rolling through Central Louisiana. From the outside, it looks like a motor home. On the inside, it’s a medical clinic where eligible residents can get free cancer screenings.
The mobile unit is a partnership between the Foundation and the Partners in Wellness Program at Feist-Weiller Center Center at LSU-Shreveport. So far, the unit has made four stops in Natchitoches, enabling 38 women to get mammograms, Pap smears and pelvic exams. Each client also received a colorectal cancer screening test that they will take at home.
The Cancer Screening Project is administered through the Foundation’s Cenla Medication Access Program, which since 2001 has provided free medications to thousands of residents who couldn’t afford them. Now, Central Louisiana individuals who meet the income qualifications may be eligible for screenings that detect breast, cervical and colorectal cancers.
The Cancer Screening Project tries to make it as easy as possible for residents to get screened. For that reason, it is bringing the screenings to rural areas via the mobile screening unit.
“Some people not only can’t afford to pay for regular cancer screens, but they also can’t afford the time and effort to make the drive in to bigger cities to get those screens. We hope to make it easier for them to get these potentially life-saving tests,” said Joe Rosier, president and CEO of The Rapides Foundation.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Trayce Snow at 318-767-3027.
Project emphasizes life-saving screenings
Too many Central Louisiana residents die each year because dangerous cancers are not detected soon enough. The Rapides Foundation’s Cancer Screening Project helps Central Louisiana residents get life-saving screenings for breast, colorectal and cervical cancers.
The project focuses on increasing access and visits to screening facilities, as well as ensuring follow-up visits, and being able to act upon whatever results stem from those visits.
Dr. Harold Wold, an oncologist and Foundation Board member, believes these efforts are critical to increase awareness about the importance of regular screenings. “This is great because it is so important to educate people that these tests are not dangerous, not painful,” Wold said.
Women of average probability of breast cancer should begin receiving mammograms at age 40, and make the habit a yearly one. Women should also begin getting routine breast examinations by their doctors beginning in their 20s or 30s.
Colorectal cancer screenings should begin at 50, with those having family histories starting even earlier. For cervical cancer, Pap smears should begin either at 21 or when a female becomes sexually active.
As with many things medical, the reasons some in the community do not seek regular screenings have been around for decades. More often than not, Wold said, the hang-ups are mental.
“The thing I hear a lot is, ‘If I don’t know about it, I don’t have to worry about it,”’ Wold said. “But just because you’re not worried about it, doesn’t mean you can’t get cancer. Others say, ‘If it’s my time, it’s my time. I won’t do anything about it.’ That’s nonsense because they clearly want to do something once they’re actually faced with the real problem.”
Wold has a message for anyone leaning toward making the choice that saves lives.
“If you get the screening tests done, you have a greater chance of living a healthy, productive life,” Wold said. “If something pops up, you’ll find out before the late stages. This is very important.”