Breast and Cervical Health Check
Guy – 25 years old
and raised in a fishing family in Petersburg, 25-year-old Amber
Guy has weathered her share of Southeast Alaska storms. By the
time she was 15, she was putting in long hours on the deck of
a fishing boat, enduring cold and rain. “It’s what you do when you grow up in Petersburg,”
of the first storms in Amber’s personal life came when
she was in college in Washington state and her Pap test was
found to be irregular. Like many students, Amber was on a tight
budget and had no health insurance to cover costs of follow-up
testing. She didn’t do anything right away.
in Petersburg over the summer break, Amber returned to fishing.
A friend, working in Juneau mentioned Alaska’s breast
and cervical cancer early detection program, known as “Breast
& Cervical Health Check”. Amber realized she might
qualify for benefits. “I would have gotten help sooner
if I had known that I could,” she said.
traveled to Juneau where she and her friend called the Juneau
Public Health Center to learn more about the early detection
program. Amber qualified for the free services and she was quickly
enrolled into the screening program.
undergoing cervical cancer screening in Juneau, Amber returned
to Petersburg where she learned, three weeks later, that the
biopsy indicated severe abnormal growth known as dysplasia.
Because she was enrolled in the Breast and Cervical Health Check
program, Amber qualified for cancer treatment through Alaska’s
Medicaid program. Amber underwent surgery in Juneau but says
it wasn’t until later that she realized how serious her
didn’t really realize that I had cancer – even after
my surgery. When I learned how serious my situation was, I was
angry. I should have gotten a follow-up right away,” she
a question health care providers grapple with regularly: Who’s
responsible for making sure a patient received the right treatment
at the right time? Most experts agree that the responsibility
needs to be shared among doctors, nurses, insurers, hospitals,
cancer centers, and patients themselves.
who’s facing a few years of cervical cancer follow-up
screenings realized it was time to take a greater role in planning
for her health care. To take advantage of a larger job market,
she left her home town and moved to Juneau, where she works
today with the federal Transportation Security Administration,
providing security at the Juneau airport. The job offers medical
coverage and Amber says she hasn’t missed a single checkup.
don’t know what I would have done or what would have happened
if not for the treatment received through the (Health Check)
program,” she says.