WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Iloma Mendonca says her breast cancer diagnosis stemmed from her son accidentally elbowing her in the chest.
“He just popped it a little bit and I did nothing else and eventually a lump came there and that was when the whole thing started,” she said.
In 2018, at 44-years-old Mendonca was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. Before the diagnosis she had never been screened for breast cancer.
“I never was like into it and people never like enlightened me that you’re supposed to be having screenings every year,” Mendonca said.
According to the CDC Black and White women get diagnosed with breast cancer at the same rate, but Black women are 42 percent more likely to die from it.
“As we’ve seen, especially during COVID that Black and Brown people are dying at a far more rate than our White counterpart,” Karen Wisdom-Chambers said. “I do believe if all people had access to care, that would be resolved.”
Wisdom-Chambers is a nurse practitioner at the Florida Atlantic University Community Health Center. They have partnered with the Promise Fund of Florida to subsidize the cost of mammograms and pap smears for women who are either uninsured or under-insured.
“Because they don’t have insurance or they are under-insured they believe they don’t get the care that they deserve,” she said.
Wisdom-Chambers says if found early breast and cervical cancers are more than 90 percent survivable. Mendonca is now receiving low cost, subsidized care and has a patient coordinator to help her through her treatment process.
“My advice to them is do take early screening and pay attention to what is going on with your heath,” Mendonca said.