CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Lisa Lovitt of Chesapeake is among a growing number of women over the age of 50 who recently stopped working to care for her aging mother. Just weeks after embracing her new challenge she encountered an even greater one.

“I was in my room, on my computer, standing up and watching my program, and I ended up crossing my hands like this and felt the knot. Of course it was like, wow you’ve got to be kidding!” Lovitt told WAVY.

She had lost a friend of 25 years to breast cancer just a month earlier.

Now, afraid for her own life, and without health insurance, Lovitt made a phone call, but to whom she can’t remember.

The young woman asked if she had ever heard of the Bra-ha-ha.

The organization, which is part of the Chesapeake Health Foundation, uses funds from its one-of-a-kind fundraising experience, to provide mammograms and breast health services for uninsured and underinsured women in Hampton Roads and Northeast North Carolina.

“Bra-ha-ha is such an amazing program and it’s so heartwarming to have people who actually access it and that’s what it’s here for!” said Chesapeake Regional Nurse Navigator, Meg Shrader.

Bra-ha-ha has provided mammograms for nearly 400 women in the last year. Shrader used the program to get Lovitt a diagnosis.

Doctor’s found disease in both of her breasts, four spots and two types of cancer.

“Yeah, that was kind of mind blowing; I just couldn’t believe it. I was yeah.. like kind of like shocked,” Lovitt said.

Her treatment plan would be extensive and expensive. A double mastectomy, chemotherapy and medication taken for ten years.

Luckily, Lovitt also qualified for “Every Woman’s Life” (EWL) a program of the Virginia Department of Health. EWL has seven programs in the Hampton Roads region and paid for breast cancer screenings for 558 women in fiscal Year 2023 (7/1/2022 – 6/30/2023). If a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer they then transition into a Medicaid program that will pay for all of the services.

“It pays for surgery, chemotherapy if you need it, radiation, medication. It pays for that for five years and that is a huge weight lifted off people’s shoulders.” Shrader said.

Lovitt does feel lighter.

“I feel great now, yeaH, absolutely just blessed for the whole nine yards of it,” she said.

Healthy enough to take care of her mom and herself.