Healthy Living: Cancer Services
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The tiny Rushville Library is Dodie Baker's pride and joy.
"It isn't just a library in this village," Dodie says. "It's kind of a community."
For Dodie, taking over the Rushville Library and reading center was her way to give back to a three-county community; one that gave so much to her and her husband, Ted.
It was three years ago when Dodie first felt the lump in her breast.
"I was talking to my brother on the phone... and I had an itch," she says. "And that's when I found the lump."
Her husband Ted immediately knew his wife had to be tested, but as a production manager in a small AM radio station, neither he nor Dodie had sufficient insurance to support the cost.
That's when Cancer Services of Ontario, Seneca & Yates Counties, stepped in to help, paying for the cost of the screening.
When the screen came up positive for breast cancer, though, Dodie and Ted were back at square one.
"Almost right away, I think we said, 'Okay: we'll deal with each day as it comes, we'll get the best information we can," says Ted.
Much of the help in that process also came from Cancer Services, an organization that had made its mission to help cancer victims, no matter what.
"Last year alone, our partnership screened 365 people," says Mary Beer, Ontario County Public Health Director, who runs the Cancer Services program. "And out of those individuals, about fifty of them had things that needed to be followed-up on."
In Dodie's case and others, Cancer Services pays for colorectal, cervical or breast cancer screenings for at-risk patients without health insurance. If a non-malignant tumor is found at those screenings, the service secures initial cancer treatments for free through a state grant. They also help the patient to get insured.
Despite the public funding, officials insist it goes beyond just a welfare or entitlement program.
"It's for many people that are working but don't have insurance," says Beer. "So we're trying to get to these people, because that's a barrier to care."
"It's difficult enough for people that have the kind of support that we did," says Ted Baker, offering a personal endorsement of the program. "I can't imagine what it's like for people that don't have that kind of support."
For Ted and Dodie, life has had a happy and cancer-free ending, thanks to Cancer Services.
"I think cancer can make someone feel very much alone," says Ted. "And that's the whole point of this Cancer Services partnership: you don't have to be alone."
"Don't be afraid or ashamed," offers Dodie.
"This is your life."
For cancer services information in your area, contact your local County Health Department.