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: Molly Osmon
According to the American Cancer Society, did you know breast cancer is the leading cause of mortality in women between the ages of 40 and 44? Did you also know that Ohio ranks number four in the nation for breast cancer incident rates? This statistic is alarming. What’s even more alarming is two Ohio counties, Licking and Pickaway, are experiencing increased mortality rates higher than the national and Ohio average. To ensure the women in their communities are not among these statistics, both Licking and Pickaway counties have developed programs to provide access to a yearly mammogram for women who are not likely to seek out one or who cannot afford one.
The Screening and Survivor Support Program in Licking County and the Cancer, Action, Recovery and Education Program in Pickaway County are helping to improve women’s lives with the resources they provide; and both of these programs are proud grant recipients of Komen Columbus.
Screening and Survivor Support (SASS)
The breast cancer mortality rate in Licking County, Ohio was 34 between 2001 and 2005 as compared to the Ohio rate of 27.5 and the U.S. rate of 25. As a result, the Licking County Health Department and the Public Health Partnership of Licking County, Inc. partnered to develop the SASS Program to provide women in Licking County with access to and education on the importance of a yearly mammogram.
The program has two focuses; early screening and survivor support. SASS is Licking County’s first and only social service program dedicated to the early detection of breast cancer and to those affected by breast cancer. Since its founding in 2006, the program has screened more than 500 women for breast cancer.
The benefit of SASS is that it provides women with immediate mammograms. This decrease in wait time potentially results in early diagnosis, which can save a woman’s life. In addition to screening services, SASS provides financial support for screenings, additional testing and other medical related expenses, if diagnosed.
According to Kate White, health educator, at the Licking County Health Department, a grant from Komen Columbus makes the SASS program possible; and without Komen’s support, the program would not be able to provide the services it does.
“If our program was not funded by KomenColumbus, our programming would dramatically change. The survivor support portion would probably be eliminated and there would not be an employee designated to coordinate the program,” said White.
The SASS program has been a tremendous success and has helped a number of women receive the care and support they need. One woman, named Kathy, received financial support from SASS to assist her with medical expenses while she underwent surgery and treatment for breast cancer. Here’s what she wrote:
Having cancer is hard enough, but honestly, the money problems seem heavier than dealing with the cancer. The day to day financial strain makes everything feel hopeless and it is hard to keep spirits up. I am so thankful for the Susan G. Komen grant that helps women like myself who are experiencing tough times. I shall never forget how your organization helped us. I would be honored to help with your endeavors to help others and give back some of the generosity I have been given. Thank you.
Cancer, Action, Recovery and Education (CARE) Program
Similar to the SASS Program, the CARE Program provides mammogram screenings and readings for women in Pickaway County. The breast cancer mortality rate in Pickaway County, like Licking County, is much higher than both the national and Ohio average at an astounding 34.7. The program, now in its fourth year, is collaboration between the Berger Health Foundation, Berger Health System and the Free Clinic of Pickaway County.
The program’s primary focus is to increase the number of low income and uninsured women in Pickaway County who receive annual mammograms. CARE specifically focuses on Ashville, Ohio, where according to the U.S Census Bureau, more than 40 percent of surveyed households had an annual income of less than $35,000. CARE provides the financial resources women need to have a yearly mammogram and the resources they need for additional testing and further medical related expenses. Every year since its inception, the program has increased the number of women it screens. The program’s goal for the next grant cycle is 176 screenings.
The CARE program is essential to the Pickaway County community. Without it, the many women it serves would not have quality access to mammogram screenings and education.
“We could not be more grateful for the support we have from Komen Columbus,” said Jared White, project director, for CARE. “With this program, we are giving women peace of mind and helping them sleep at night.”