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‘They saved my life, without question’

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Program helped detect and treat breast cancer

By Cindy Simpson

Chasity Pennington didn’t plan on getting her mammogram last year.
It’s a good thing she did. If she hadn’t, it might have been too late to help her today.
“To me, it is God’s work,” the Oliver Springs woman said. “If I had waited even a year, the outcome would have been totally different.”

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Pennington was diagnosed and treated for an aggressive form of breast cancer shortly after her mammogram by the University of Tennessee Medical Center mobile mammography unit.
She had the mammogram at the insistence of neighbor Marie Lloyd and Pennington’s husband, Brad.
“I feel like they saved my life, without question,” Pennington said.
Self employed, the Penningtons didn’t have health insurance. The mobile unit, however, is designed to help any woman, regardless of ability to pay, and Pennington soon learned there are also resources for treatment.
“That is what it was designed for — women that don’t have insurance,” Pennington said. “Even if you have insurance, you can go.”
Pennington made it a day with her sister, who came and did lunch after their mammograms.
Pennington wasn’t worried. Her father had died from lung cancer, but she had no family history of breast cancer.
Her world crashed down a few days later, on her husband’s birthday.
“That is when the lady called from UT. She said, ‘We found something,’” Pennington said.
She went in for further exams,  including a biopsy. It was diagnosed as the aggressive kind but was at stage 0 essentially, having been found before she could even feel anything.
Pennington had radiation and a lumpectomy.
She got help with her treatment through the Tennessee Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program and was enrolled with help from UT Medical Center’s Breast Care Service.
The program provides screenings to both eligible and qualified women diagnosed with breast, cervical or pre-cancerous conditions for those cancers can be enrolled for coverage through TennCare.
Eligible women must be between 40 and 64, at 250 percent of the federal poverty level or less and uninsured or under-insured.