Although October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, spreading awareness of early detection, which saves lives, is a year-long effort for two Miami-Dade women.
For Aida Fraga, the Salute the Ribbon nonprofit organization saved her life. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer after a free mammogram, she had no means to pay for additional testing and nowhere to turn.
That's when Salute the Ribbon founder Rena Day stepped in and helped Fraga receive a biopsy.
"That's how it was determined she had breast cancer. Not in one breast, but both," Day said. "I'm just happy that she's able to make it through this process. A lot of people find out too late. If she would have been turned away and the organization wasn't in place, she would have had advanced breast cancer."
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Since 2015, the organization has helped 22 women in Miami-Dade. Day said the group covers medical bills and makes one-on-one quality care a reality for those most vulnerable who are afflicted with the disease.
"The target audience is uninsured immigrants, no matter what their immigration status, and uninsured women. What sets us aside from other organizations is that we have a seamless process," Day said. "It's easy to get into the organization. All you need is a picture ID, proof of income and you're in – and living in Miami-Dade County. That's it!"
Florida International University is also playing a key role in South Florida in the struggle against breast cancer. The university has the only Mobile 3D Mammography Center in the area.
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among U.S. women and it is the second-leading cause of cancer death, according to the American Cancer Society. About 80 percent of breast cancer cases are diagnosed in women over 50 years of age.
The Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County is holding mammogram and Pap smear exams for free at the West Dade Clinic located at 11865 S.W. 26th St., Suite 12, in Miami on Oct. 14.
The service will be available for women between 50 years and 65 years of age who do not have health insurance and who live in Miami-Dade or Monroe County. To schedule an appointment, please call the health department at 305-470-5634.
FIU's Linda Fenner 3D Mobile Mammography Center also takes appointments for women who qualify. For more information, please call 305-FIU-PINK (305-348-7465) or send an email to LFMMC@fiu.edu.