BASTROP, Texas – Uninsured women in Bastrop County will have better access to preventive cancer care thanks to a pilot program known as The Pinky Promise, a breast cancer screening initiative led by the nonprofit Bastrop County Cares in collaboration with multiple community organizations.
“What a valuable resource for the women of Bastrop County, since early detection and treatment means the greatest hope for survival and recovery from breast cancer,” said Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape, chair of the Bastrop County Cares committee. “It’s exciting and encouraging to me to see this level of coordination on such an important initiative.”
Breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in Texas women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, routine screening is the best way to mitigate the burden of breast cancer by diagnosing the disease early, while it is easier to treat.
“We know that Texas women living in rural areas are more likely to have breast cancers diagnosed at a later, more invasive stage, which means ultimately they will die of the disease at a much higher rate than their counterparts living in more developed areas,” said S. Gail Eckhardt, M.D., chair of oncology and director of the Livestrong Cancer Institutes at Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin. “This pilot in Bastrop County to increase awareness and fight breast cancer is leading the way and setting an example for other counties in our region,” she said.
The Pinky Promise is a collaboration of Bastrop County Cares, Dell Med, Alliance for African American Health in Central Texas, Community Action Inc., Shivers Cancer Foundation, ARA Diagnostic Imaging, Ascension Seton Smithville, Austin Area Research Organization and several other community entities. These organizations are part of Central Texas Addressing Cancer Together, a multicounty coalition committed to addressing cancer care for uninsured people, which selected breast health and cancer care as the first cancer for the coalition to address.
“As a breast cancer survivor and retired physician, I understand the importance of early screening," said Linda Ornelas Wilson, M.D., who spearheaded The Pinky Promise with fellow Bastrop County Cares board member Betty Dunkerly. "We have had the pleasure of building bridges through the lens of equity and community for better access to health for Bastrop county residents,” she said.
Member organizations of The Pinky Promise are working to raise awareness and interest among the community. The Alliance for African American Health in Central Texas has formed an outreach council of women in Smithville, Bastrop and Elgin. Bastrop County Cares is working with church-based groups, food pantries and the local chambers of commerce to promote breast cancer screenings in English and Spanish.
The Pinky Promise was made possible through a grant from the Shivers Cancer Foundation, along with support from local philanthropy, to support free mammograms and provide navigation and breast cancer care.
For more information, follow The Pinky Promise at www.facebook.com/CTXPinkyPromise.