By Allison Lee Riechman-Bennett

When Kristi Seibert and Kathryn Wall of Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks received three phone calls from young women looking for tumor diagnosis, red flags began flying up. Kristi and Kathryn are a part of vital cancer diagnosis programs for our region, involving their U35 Program, their new office in Joplin, and regularly held free screening mammogram events in Joplin held at both Mercy and Freeman Hospital. These three phone calls prompted an additional program on top of their 10 years of services in the Show-Me State.  

“These three women were too young to qualify for assistance programs that would help them pay for the costs of the expensive tests that are necessary to determine whether a person has breast cancer or not,” said Wall.

Faced with the denial of treatment due to a cost barrier, Wall tried to steer them in the right direction. Due to lack of funding in local hospitals and awareness, no program was available for women under the age of 35.

“We had nowhere to point them, “Wall continued. “There is a great state program called Show Me Healthy Women that covers the costs of diagnostic mammograms, ultrasounds and biopsies, but only for women 35 and over. Those calls were three women experiencing symptoms of breast cancer that needed to know how to get diagnosed, and the only barrier was their ability to pay and an unnecessary age restriction. This coincided with a recognition that we were seeing more and more patients under 35 being diagnosed with breast cancer.” 

With rising cases in women under the age of 35, regular mammogram screening was becoming necessary, something local clinics couldn’t keep up with nor provide for those unable to pay for regular visits. This is where U35, a program aimed at tackling the gap in health care and to people under the age of 35, came in. BCFO recognizes the universal misunderstanding that breast cancer doesn’t happen in younger women and men. Wall expanded on starting the program as well as their progress this year:

“So, we told our board we wanted to do something, and then we told donors, and then we told the public, and every step of the way people were energized and supportive. In April, we were able to launch our pilot program with Springfield hospitals Mercy and CoxHealth and have already helped 14 people this year.”

Their care also extends to men, who face a starkly different type of risk from breast cancer. The lack of resources for men regarding breast cancer allows for a later diagnosis and care, resulting in a much more deadly disease and lesser options for care. Women and men in the area can contact BCFO for their services at their new Joplin office at 3016 McClelland Boulevard on the third floor of Guaranty Bank.

U35 Program

  • Financial liberty in receiving vital diagnosis care for breast cancer
  • For men and women
  • Serviced to those under the age of 35


New Joplin Offices

  • Located at 3016 McClelland Blvd on the third floor of Guaranty Bank
  • Phone 417.862.3838

“Breast cancer is about 100 times less common among white men than among white women. It is about 70 times less common among Black men than Black women. Black men with breast cancer tend to have a worse prognosis.”

The American Cancer Society 2022 estimates for breast cancer in men in the United States are:

  • About 2,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed
  • About 530 men will die from breast cancer