Houston Methodist breast health initiative aims to save lives

By Rachel McNeill - Anchor

HOUSTON - About one in every three people living in Houston does not have health insurance.

When it comes to breast cancer treatment, it's been proven that socioeconomic status and race can dramatically slash a woman's chance of survival.

A new, free program aims to wage war against the disease.

It was the discovery every woman dreads, and for Barbara Blough, of Missouri City, it turned out to be Stage 3 triple negative breast cancer.

"I actually found the lump on my right breast -- maybe the size of a quarter," Blough said. "But, I had to wait a long time to get assistance, so by the time they got to it, it was very painful. It had grown quite a bit."

As a Fort Bend ISD bus driver, Blough has insurance, but she was working two jobs to put her daughter through college.

It took six months from the date of diagnosis to when she was finally able to get treatment after being referred to the Houston Methodist Breast Health Initiative. www.HoustonMethodist.org

"Without Dr. Rodriguez, the program and without God, I think that I would not be here today," Blough said.

Houston Methodist Breast Oncologist Dr. Angel Rodriguez is Director of the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Clinic.

"This program is basically the community giving back to the community," said Dr. Rodriguez. "Unfortunately the cancer doesn't wait and the cancer grows, and we certainly do know the earliest we can treat a patient, that certainly influences the outcome."

After chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, Blough is cancer-free and encourages other women to be proactive.

"I would say don't give up. There are options out there," she said. "Explore your options."

Thanks to grants from the Avon Foundation, Komen for a Cure and the American Cancer Society, in less than a year, the Houston Methodist Breast Health Initiative has provided more than 150 women at Houston's Eastside Denver Harbor Breast Clinic with free screenings, biopsies and more.

To contact the Houston Methodist Breast Health Initiative, call 713-790-2700.

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