Locals take advantage of free cancer screenings at Plains hospital

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DECORATED BRAS on display in the hallway leading to the radiology department in the Clark Fork Valley Hospital. The bras were decorated by community members in exchange for a donation to one of the donor funds. (John Dowd/Clark Fork Valley Press)

Last Thursday the Clark Fork Valley Hospital held its annual free cancer screening day to help members of the local community catch breast cancer early.

From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., members of the community who qualified received a free mammogram procedure and many participants, if something was discovered during their procedure, could receive financial assistance in their next step of treatment.

The radiology department saw more than one dozen people. Participants could either set up an appointment for last Thursday, or if they were not able to make their appointment, the hospital was able to schedule an appointment for another time.

Community members were also able to walk in to receive a free procedure and many of those walk-ins were referred by the ladies working the Montana Cancer Control Program booth in the Health fair last week on the same day.

To participate in the screening, women did not require any referral and had to be over the age of 40. To qualify they also had to have no insurance, be under-insured, have a high deductible or trouble navigating the insurance system. The screening was meant to inspect for cervical and well as breast health in participants, and again would be at no charge to them.

The procedures were paid for by a couple donation funds, including “Chicks and Chaps” and “Think Pink.” The second of the two is a donation fund run by Rocky Mountain Bank. The Clark Fork Valley Hospital has been doing this free cancer screening day for a long time, more than 10 years, and has helped the community greatly.

The Montana Cancer Control Program, which helps fund this event in several hospitals around Montana, receives some funding from the Centers for Disease Control, in exchange for information regarding their screening across the board. The process is meant to help locals understand the procedures and test results, to assist community members in getting insurance and to provide first step care for people diagnosed with cancer.

The program is also related to the Montana Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Bureau. Sanders County is part of the same region as Flathead, Lake and Lincoln counties, and so has access to all of the same facilities as the other three, in case a patient may require further treatment or assistance.

For more information on cancer assistance or on the program, anyone can reach out to the Montana Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Bureau at 1-888-803-9343 or visit www.cancer.mt.gov.

People can also visit the Clark Fork Valley Hospital for more information.

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