Myrna Ben, 44, of Baltimore City, is one of hundreds of women who have received free breast cancer screening exams through the Baltimore City Cancer Program, an initiative of the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center.
Myrna came to the U.S. from the Philippines in 2004. She was in good health and had no history of breast cancer in her family. “I felt that, if you’re healthy, you don’t need to go to the doctor for a check-up, and I’m healthy.” However, in March, 2006, she noticed a lump in her breast. She did not have health insurance, and hesitated about getting it checked out.
Fortunately, her husband, Rodney, insisted that she get a mammogram appointment. “I basically made up her mind for her,” he says. He made the initial call to the Baltimore City Cancer Program after hearing about the free breast cancer screening program for people with no health insurance.
Myrna had a mammogram, followed by an ultrasound, a breast biopsy, and an MRI. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in April, 2006. Myrna says she was surprised to find out the lump was breast cancer. “At first, I thought ‘Why me?’ But God has a plan for your life.” she says.
Rodney Ben adds: “I thought to be on the safe side we should have it checked out. What would it hurt? I cared about my wife, and I wanted her to get checked out.” He believes that more men should encourage their wives to get screened for breast cancer so that they can be healthy.
Myrna had surgery in May 2006, then chemotherapy and radiation. She got through all the treatments without interruption, despite having a high fever part of the time. “Every day, I would just clean my house to keep up my strength,” she recalls.
Her treatments ended in December 2006. “All in one year,” she marvels. “And, by the grace of God, I am still in good health. I thank my family and friends for the prayers.”
Both the Bens feel that the care Myrna received through the Baltimore City Cancer Program and at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center was “great.”
Myrna is now helping other women cope with a diagnosis of breast cancer by volunteering with the Baltimore City Cancer Program’s support group.
Free breast and cervical cancer screenings are provided for uninsured women in Baltimore City Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. at UniversityCare at Edmondson Village located at 4538 Edmondson Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland 21229. For more information, please contact the Baltimore City Cancer Program at 410-328-HOPE (4673).
The Baltimore City Cancer Program is funded through the Maryland Cigarette Restitution Fund Program.