Many organizations have been working to build awareness of breast cancer or to fund research and treatment. But even after patients are diagnosed as cancer-free, there are still needs for those who have been through it, and they frequently aren’t covered by insurance.
“You never return to the person you were before your diagnosis,” said Kim Coy, a breast cancer survivor from Bainbridge who founded Ta Ta Rebels Inc., a nonprofit organization that helps breast cancer survivors.
Coy said the number of breast cancer survivors keeps growing, in part because improved treatment means more patients are surviving. The survival rate is now up to 90 percent, compared to 75 percent in the mid-1970s.
“Thank God there are these great organizations that have done what they have done,” Coy said.
But when the surgery and treatment are over, that doesn’t mean the end of the road for survivors.
“There’s a whole lot of stuff that you gotta live with,” Coy said. For example, Coy showed a compression sleeve that she wears because of the removal of her lymph nodes. Compression sleeves are considered durable medical equipment and often are not covered by insurance, despite efforts by Congress to make insurers pay.
“The insurance companies have a way to get around
the Women’s Act of 1995,” Coy said.
And it’s not just out-of-pocket medical expenses. Cancer often makes patients unable to work, so the loss of income causes problems.
“I know survivors who have lost their house,” Coy said. “They have lost their job. They lost everything.”
That’s why Coy founded Ta Ta Rebels. The group held a major fundraiser on Saturday, Oct. 6, in which a motorcyle ride began at the Elizabethtown American Legion and went to the Dela-Ches Fishing Association, where there was entertainment from a disc jockey and door prizes.
The event also featured a presentation from Jill Robbins and Terry Scott, the owners of the Perfect Match Boutique in Camp Hill. The business sells prostheses, compression sleeves and other durable medical equipment used by breast cancer patients and survivors.
Coy said with October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, it’s important to be aware of the needs of survivors.
“Everybody’s already aware of breast cancer, but hardly anybody’s aware of survivorship,” Coy said.