Tulsa Widower Pushing To Lower Age For Mammogram Coverage

Wednesday, July 15th 2015, 11:39 pm
By: News On 6

A mammogram can cost $250, and for a lot of people that's a lot of money for a screening.

Many insurance companies cover mammograms for women age 50 and older, but a Tulsa widower is asking for insurers to cover the cost for younger women.

At the same time Joseph Jennings is grieving the loss of his wife, Kristen Bendele, he's also leading a movement to convince insurance companies to cover mammograms for women age 30 and up.

Learn More About Kristen's Story

"She's my hero. She taught the girls how to be tough, how to face adversity. When you're kicked down, you get back up and you say, 'Is that all you got,'" Jennings said.

She was a hero to Jennings, but to 7-year-old Abigail, and 8-year-old Katlyn, she's an angel.

"I think she's watching over us," Katlyn said.

When Bendele was 32, she felt a lump in her breast. She had just given birth to Abigail, and a doctor advised it was probably breast milk building up.

Go Fund Me To Lower The Age For Screening

She didn't get a mammogram.

"Because it was not an option,” Jennings said. “She was 32 years old, and because the doctor says it's more than likely a lump from milk drying up, that it will wash back down through, the insurance wouldn't cover it," Jennings said.

Oklahoma requires private insurers cover annual mammograms for women age 40 and older, not 32-year-old Bendele.

More Information On Mammogram Screenings

Her lump went undetected for six months and grew to an almost 12-centimeter tumor.

She passed away in November.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation says out of 100,000 women, ages 30 to 34, only 25 will develop breast cancer.

Jennings' mission to get mammograms covered for women age 30 and up is now all over the Internet, including on Change.org, where he has almost 90,000 supporters.

Jennings hopes it causes real change.

"You get a feeling in your soul that I just done something good. I saved a family from going through what we are," he said.

You can also call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345. The people on the other end of the line can help connect you to a free mammogram if you don't have insurance or means to pay.