Your Dollars, Making an Impact: Mount Carmel Breast Cancer Survivorship Program

Ever wonder how your donation dollars help? Where does the money go and who does it directly help? Komen Columbus has a proud tradition of partnering with many organizations to help men and women who are underserved and uninsured in our 30-county service area. This year alone, we granted nearly $2 million to support 34 programs in Central and Southeastern Ohio communities. This milestone moment would not be possible without the generosity of our sponsors, Race participants and all those people who give to Komen Columbus. For the next few weeks, we will feature our grantees so you can see and read how your dollars are making an impact.

Guest Writer: Michele Mooney

To a person affected with breast cancer, it is a journey– beginning with detection, diagnosis and treatment and continues throughout their life.  Mount Carmel’s holistic approach to breast cancer recognizes the person’s body, mind and spirit throughout their journey.

Komen’s relationship with Mount Carmel Health System began in 1998.   Over the years, through its Women’s Health Centers and with support from Komen Columbus, uninsured and underinsured individuals have been able to receive life-saving mammograms and support programs.  Today, Mount Carmel has expanded its scope of services to focus beyond breast cancer detection and treatments to the well-being of the survivor’s mental and physical health.

In the past five years alone, Mount Carmel has provided more than 750 Komen-funded screening mammograms to women from Franklin and surrounding counties. During this time, an additional 1,300 women have attended its Komen-funded breast and lymphedema survivorship services.

Above and beyond the excellent programs for breast cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery, Mount Carmel focuses on all aspects of a patient’s physical, emotional and mental health throughout her lifetime.

Programs including “Look, Listen and Feel” Lymphedema Care Class, Aquatic Exercise, Gentle Yoga and Breast Cancer Nutrition and Education are offered free to Mount Carmel patients through Komen Columbus funding.  It is through these community opportunities that patients are able to better cope and heal as well as improve their overall mental and physical well-being.

“I have learned that a community of cancer survivors connected with a community of caregivers is the best possible support structure for recovery from cancer.” These are the words of Suzanne Marilley, an associate professor of political science at Capital University and breast cancer survivor.

Suzanne learned about cancer early in her life. Before she was born, her maternal grandmother died of breast cancer and ten years ago her mother was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer. For six weeks she lived with and cared for her mother. Around this time Suzanne was in her mid-forties and had already had two needle biopsies for calcifications that were benign.

Ten years later, at age 57, a mammogram indicated an abnormality that led to a diagnosis of breast cancer. Based on her family history and results of her needle biopsy Suzanne elected to have a total mastectomy. Her tumor did not invade the lymph nodes, thus giving her a lower chance of recurrence. The mastectomy exempted her from radiation and chemotherapy was not recommended by her physician.

The early detection of cancer gives Suzanne favorable odds for recovery. However, by itself the prognosis did not generate healing. She credits the physicians, nurse navigators and the many support services offered by Mount Carmel for putting her back on track and keeping her on the road to recovery. Before participating in Mount Carmel support and survivorship programs such as yoga and exercise classes, Suzanne coped with her cancer mostly by herself. Now, she is connected with a community of survivors.

For a complete list of all our Komen Columbus grantees and the services and programs they provide, click here.
Read about other Komen Columbus Community Health Grantees here.