Breast cancer survivor helped by BCCCP program's free treatment

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A young woman from Canton knew in her 20s that something was wrong with her right breast, but getting the cancer diagnosis wouldn't be easy.

One year ago, at just 26 years old, Kendra Wilcox felt something.

"I found a lump on my right side," she says. "Wasn't quite a lump, though, more like a shelf."

Confused and scared, Kendra was no longer eligible for her mom's health insurance. With a family history of breast cancer, she and her fiancé, Kyle, were nervously searching for help.

"I had scheduled so many appointments and ended up having to cancel, because I'm like, 'Well, how much does it cost?' And they're like, 'Well, it's initially this much,'" she says.

As time goes by, Kendra has a gut feeling that the lump she feels is cancer and that it's growing. At this critical time, she and Kyle discover the BCCCP program -- and they discover Karmanos oncologist Dr. Lawrence Flaherty.

It takes several scans and exams before Kendra gets the diagnosis: she's got an aggressive form of breast cancer.

"We have just recently completed a year's worth of treatment for her with radiation therapy, chemotherapy and surgery," says Dr. Flaherty. 

Through BCCCP, the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program Kendra is eligible for free treatment. Usually it's for women ages 40 through 64, but sometimes exceptions are made.

"There are services available for you, even if you have health insurance," says Elree Watkins, a BCCCP patient coordinator. "If you have a really high deductible, high out-of-pocket cost, sometimes you don't have that extra money."

Kendra will eventually go through genetic testing to see if she has the breast cancer gene, but for now she's healing and feeling a great sense of relief.

"It was in my lymph nodes so it would have traveled a little bit further than it did, and I think that it was all about the timing," she says. "It worked so well and we got so lucky."

The BCCCP is funded by state funds and supplemented by the Susan G. Komen Detroit Race for the Cure, which is happening this Saturday at Chene Park. Seventy-five percent of money raised stays here to fund support programs like BCCCP.

FOX 2 will be at the race live Saturday morning. For more information on joining yourself, CLICK HERE.