Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A call to action for Californians

I sent off the following letter to editors at several local newspapers and would ask that my fellow Californians do the same, along with calling the Governor's office and State Legislators' offices to demand reconsideration of the cuts to critical breast cancer screening programs in CA. Dear Editor: My breast cancer was found accidentally at the age of 37. I felt a lump that I knew in my heart was not dangerous. The tests were ordered and my instinct was correct about that lump. But, the tests discovered a sizable tumor on the other side and in my lymph nodes - masses that neither me nor my doctor could feel. I had an aggressive type of breast cancer, stage 3. The tests saved my life. In January, the Every Woman Counts program, that screens 350,000 underserved women in California annually, closed its doors and won't resume screenings until July. When the program reopens, women under 50 will not be served. To save a few bucks - just one half of one percent - having little impact on CA's massive budget deficit but having a devastating impact on the women who will die as a result. When breast cancer is detected early, the five year survival rate is 98 percent. The lack of regular screening leads to late stage diagnosis (like mine) when treatment is more expensive and survival is less certain. Because of my age (under 40), I was denied routine screening, now my treatment has surpassed the $250,000 mark. More cuts are likely. California may eliminate the program that provides breast cancer treatment for low-income women, leaving 9,000 women with breast cancer no treatment options. There are women on the front lines of our troubled economy who will lose their job and their insurance. One in eight will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Balancing the budget shouldn't come at a cost of risking their lives. Why are we turning our backs on women in our state when they need us the most? Every woman counts to me - do they count to you? Respectfully, Julie Olsen


  1. I will pass this on to everyone I know in CA,

  2. I live in CA, have breast cancer, and would never write that letter. Why not start a movement and charity where people willingly donate their money to fund mammograms for people in need. Why does the government, and my tax dollar, have to go to this? If the people of the US can raise multi-millions for the people of Haiti - they have enough good-will to fill this need too. The governor has already decided that my family has to live in 15% less money due to furloughs - which of course, has affected my cancer treatment - copays and medicine - even gas to get to your sometimes four times a week appointments isn't cheap even with insurance. I think there is no choice but to cut programs like this in the current economic climate.

    Start a fund. Start a charity. Don't put this burden on the taxpayer when the money simply isn't there.

  3. Kat - thank you! xoxo

    Ann - We'll have to agree to disagree. I have friends who's lives have been saved within the past year by the CA programs my letter is about. Until a charity fund can replace the current program, the program is needed. Starting a new fund or charity is a swell idea but it won't happen soon enough to help those that the termination of the CA program will effect now and in the near term. In this economic climate where we have over 12% unemployment in CA, the program is needed more than ever. There are many other programs that could be cut that won't kill people for doing so. Sorry, but I think other sacrifices can and should be made to ensure all CA women with breast cancer can be treated promptly and effectively to give them a shot at living. I bet if you were one of those that needed the program you would feel differently.

  4. In response to Ann's post, I can certainly relate to her dilemna as a state employee - the "coveted government jobs" are beginning to suffer what the rest of us have over the last few years. Reduced pay (my son-in-law took a 40% cut as a commercial pilot), loss of jobs and benefits. I would have loved it if we were asked to take time off without pay to save our friends jobs. More state cuts of employee benefits will help keep healthcare costs down to keep this program funded which in turn helps the taxpayers ........