Flagstaff women's cancer treatment program at risk

Lack of funding could close the doors for North Country HealthCare's Well Woman Healthcheck and Treatment Link programs that provide free breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to those in need.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - A Northern Arizona clinic helping women battle cancer may soon have its hands tied as it runs out of funding.

Eva Ramirez is a cancer survivor who says the program that helped save her life must continue for women who have yet to be diagnosed.

Ramirez said her family and children are part of the reason she was in the bi-annual screening stage of her battle with breast cancer in late November.

Ramirez remembered the chemotherapy, nausea and hair loss as the most difficult part.

She said she is alive and able to give 12 News an interview because of the Well Woman HealthCheck and Treatment Link Programs provided by North Country HealthCare.

Services costing up to $100,000 a month for low-income and underinsured women like Ramirez are free to those eligible for these programs.

Program coordinator Josie Escoto said it helps 1,000 women in Coconino County every year.

Though funding from the Susan G. Komen Foundation dropped from $150,000 to $50,000 for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, 1,000 women were still able to get help thanks to an anonymous and generous gift.

“We were very fortunate that they donated $100,000 specifically to the Treatment Link Program here at North Country,” Escoto said.

That cash was needed more than ever with funds from the Susan G. Komen foundation down by two-thirds and gone by April 2018.

As options for some women to be diagnosed past the spring of 2018 close, Ramirez and her husband, Marco Antonio Carrillo, said they know she was lucky her diagnosis came in 2015 while funding was still available. The couple said there is no way they would have been able to pay the cost out of pocket.

Ramirez and her husband hope her story of survival inspires others to give to the program, so more women can win this fight.

You can click here for more information on program eligibility and on how to make a donation.

Escoto said in 2018, the program will offer tax credit for donations.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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