CAP@YourService – November/December
More than 200 women in Minneapolis and Boston received free breast and cervical cancer screening tests in October as part of the College’s See, Test & Treat™ program. The events, supported by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) and the CAP Foundation, offered free breast and cervical cancer screening tests to underserved and uninsured women, along with same-day diagnoses and follow-up care, during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For many of these women, the events proved to be life changing.
On October 4–6, North Point Health & Wellness Center hosted its sixth annual See, Test & Treat event. Aside from the cervical and breast cancer screening, the women also had the opportunity to receive free screening tests for high cholesterol, blood pressure, and diabetes. Additional health information was available at an on-site health fair.
Isabel Gutierrez-Pineda of Buffalo, Minnesota, was one of the women who received these lifesaving screening tests during the event. After waiting four years to receive a Pap test and mammogram, Mrs. Gutierrez-Pineda, whose family does not have health insurance, cried tears of joy when she received her test results. “I felt like an enormous weight had been lifted off my shoulders when I heard I was ok,” said Mrs. Gutierrez-Pineda, originally from Mexico. “Before coming to the See, Test & Treat event, I was living in fear —not knowing whether or not I might have cancer.”
Bradley M. Linzie, MD, FCAP, and Steven M. Debol, MD, PhD, FCAP, provided pathology services during the event. Language interpreters were onsite to assist Hispanic, Somali, and Hmong-speaking patients.
The event was supported by the Minnesota affiliate for Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the Midwest division of the American Cancer Society, and SAGE, Minnesota’s Cancer Screening Program. In addition, Hologic donated a ThinPrep machine and Pap testing supplies.
On Saturday, October 15, Asian-American women were seen, tested, and treated at Tufts Medical Center. Barbarajean Magnani, PhD, MD, FCAP, chair and pathologist-in-chief at Tufts, brought the program to the medical center last year and led a team of volunteers to offer free breast and cervical cancer screening tests to women living in Boston’s Chinatown area, as well as surrounding communities. Nora V. Laver, MD, FCAP, and Barbara J. Weinstein, MD, FCAP, provided the diagnoses for patients who received Pap tests. Stephen P. Naber, MD, FCAP, and Dr. Magnani offered pathology consultations to interested participants.
During the one-day event, over 40 women were served. To some that number may appear small, but to the 31% of the women who received abnormal results from their Pap tests and the 10% who had abnormalities identified through their mammograms, those numbers are huge. These women, because of a lack of insurance or funds, might have remained ignorant of these abnormalities without See, Test & Treat; with funding from the CAP Foundation the event enabled each woman to focus solely on health.
Adding to the comfortable feeling of the day, other services were provided. Services like on-site children’s activities, stretching exercises coordinated by a personal trainer, and pamphlets printed in English and Chinese to support access and understanding complemented the event. Cantonese and Mandarin language interpreters were available to assist patients with physician interaction and with the receipt of additional health information. The Massachusetts affiliate for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the New England division of the American Cancer Society, South Cove Community Center, and others participated in an on-site health fair. Other supporters included BD Diagnostics, Carestream, Sekisui Diagnostics, and Gen-Probe. Also, Whole Foods generously donated fresh fruit, which was served to the women during the event, and Great Taste, a local Chinese bakery, donated traditional pastries.
See, Test & Treat patient ChangBao Yuan thanked staff members and doctors profusely. ChangBao learned about the event from a poster in her English language class. She said, “I feel very lucky that I saw that sign. This is very important, especially for a new immigrant. Hospitals are very expensive; without insurance, it is very hard to take care of myself.”
ChangBao emigrated from China more than a year ago, to care for her elder sister, whose life was eventually cut short by breast cancer. She remains in this country to care for her now motherless niece. She is grateful that this program exists; without the opportunity to maintain her own health, she certainly can’t care for those who need her now more than ever.
The See, Test & Treat program also provides pathologists with the opportunity to work directly with patients and educates the public on the important role that pathologists play on the patient care team. When Dr. Magnani learned ChangBao’s story, she said, “This is why we host this event. If we can have a positive impact on even one person, it is well worth it.”
The CAP plans to expand the See, Test & Treat program in 2012 to other communities.