INWOOD — Now there's no excuse for New Yorkers to avoid getting screened for breast cancer.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has launched the first statewide breast cancer screening initiative in the nation, increasing screening hours at more than 200 hospitals and clinics throughout the state and slashing annual deductibles, co-payments and cost-sharing for all mammogram screenings.
“I believe we have the opportunity to save lives when it comes to breast cancer,” Cuomo said Friday at Dyckman Houses in Inwood as he launched his campaign, dubbed “Get Screened, No Excuses,” on Friday.
State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, Public Advocate Letitia James, Assemblyman Guillermo Linares and officials from the Department of Health joined the conference.
Cuomo shared how he learned about the emotional and physical ravages of breast cancer “the hard way,” after his longtime partner, Sandra Lee, was diagnosed two years ago.
“We’re still living through the situation,” Cuomo said, adding that he hopes no one ever has to go through that experience.”
“There should be nobody in this state, who doesn’t get breast screening done when it needs to be done. It would literally save lives,” Cuomo said. “Help us get this word out, please — and let’s end this disease once and for all.”
Espaillat added that the legislation will reduce barriers to screening.
“Women have to go and get their tests done, there are no excuses,” said Espaillat. “We need to make sure our mothers, wives, daughters and grandmothers — all of them — get breast cancer screening to avoid this type of epidemic.”
James said that while there is a 99 percent survival rate if breast cancer is detected early, black women are 42 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than their white counterparts and Hispanic women have significantly higher rates of being diagnosed with advanced breast cancer than either white or black women.
Inwood resident Rosie Wallace, 66, who was diagnosed with breast cancer last April, said an initiative like this is long overdue.
“I’m here to learn more and help other people know the importance of getting screened,” Wallace said in Spanish, adding that she’s hoping more women seek the support they need.
For Washington Heights resident Micaela Lugo, 60, the fight was a lot tougher. Lugo, who was diagnosed with breast cancer almost 16 years ago, said she knows a program like this will save lives.
“This is so good,” Lugo said in Spanish. “I’m very, very happy for all women. It’s going to benefit the community and all women. It’s going to motivate women to get tested.”