Holiday Giving to Help All Year Long

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“This past year, our Komen St. Louis-funded Breast Health Screening Access Project provided patient navigation services to more than 1,000 women.”

– Chereese Agard, Breast Health Navigator at Family Care Health Centers

Imagine a woman’s overwhelming sense of not knowing what to do next after she’s diagnosed with breast cancer.

Thanks to Komen St. Louis funding, local organizations like Family Care Health Centers are easing such fears. The Komen St. Louis-funded patient navigation program helps guide women through the complex health care system and gain access to life-saving breast health services.

Komen dollars make a difference in the lives of breast cancer patients every day.

And we can’t do this without your support.

Our goal is to raise $20,000 this holiday season. This amount could help provide 880 hours of patient navigation to guide women through their breast cancer journeys.

Your year-end donation to Komen St. Louis will help ensure women and families in our community have access to quality breast health services all year long.

Thank you for giving back to Komen St. Louis. Thank you for supporting our mission to save lives and end breast cancer forever.

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Meet Me in St. Louis, Meet Me at the Mission

As October and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month came to a close, Komen St. Louis hosted Komen President and CEO Dr. Judy Salerno on a two-day whirlwind tour. Our mission: to show Dr. Salerno first-hand the year-round impact of Susan G. Komen® and Komen St. Louis in our community.

Local Dollars Making a Local Impact

We introduced Judy to two of Komen St. Louis’ community partners, each helping women right now by providing safety-net services in underserved neighborhoods.

 Komen CEO Judy Salerno and Komen St. Louis Executive Director Helen Chesnut with the team at Betty Jean Kerr People's Health Centers

Komen CEO Judy Salerno and Komen St. Louis Executive Director Helen Chesnut with the team at Betty Jean Kerr People’s Health Centers

At Betty Jean Kerr People’s Health Centers, Komen St. Louis funding supports the People’s Sister Connection program. The program offers medically underserved and uninsured African-American women access to the quality breast health care they need, including breast health education, clinical breast exams and screening mammograms. The program staff told us about the four mammogram events they coordinated in the week leading up to our visit. They are on track to provide more than 800 mammograms to women who may not otherwise get them.

In another vulnerable area of our community, Family Care Health Centers primarily serves uninsured, low-income individuals. Komen St. Louis funding helps FCHC’s Breast Health Screening Access Project to connect women with breast health resources and patient navigation services. Mammography vans – provided through another Komen St. Louis community partner – are available for the center’s diverse population of African-American, Bosnian, Hispanic, Somali and Vietnamese women. The program staff showed us the system they’ve developed to ensure as many women as possible stay current with their breast health screenings.

A Local View on Nationally Funded Breast Cancer Research

Judy’s St. Louis tour continued with a visit with four Komen-funded scientists in their labs at Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. Washington University is home to eight active Komen research grants totaling $15.1 million.

Komen Promise Grantee Dr. Matthew Ellis discusses his breast cancer research with Komen CEO Dr. Judy Salerno

Komen Promise Grantee Dr. Matthew Ellis discusses his research with Komen CEO Dr. Judy Salerno

Komen Scholar Dr. Matthew Ellis’ Komen Promise Grant is supporting a three-year research project to identify patients most at risk for late recurrence of ER+ breast cancer and to develop drugs that will prevent late recurrence.

Promise Grantee Dr. William Gillanders and his research team updated Judy on the Komen-funded, five-year project aiming to develop personalized breast cancer vaccines that harness patients’ immune systems to target unique tumor antigens.

Dr. Cynthia Ma’s Komen-funded research focuses on triple negative breast cancer. With impeccable timing, just as she was meeting with Judy, we received notification that Dr. Ma’s $1 million Komen grant was officially contracted.

Dr. Ron Bose, who has received two Komen national grants and is a Komen St. Louis Pink Tie Guy, talked with Judy about his research focused on the HER2 gene, which causes HER2-positive breast cancer. He uses cancer genome sequencing and studies of protein structure to understand how HER2 works.

With her medical background and community health experience, Judy was clearly in her element during the grantee site visits, lab tours and science-based discussions.

During her St. Louis visit, Judy also met Komen St. Louis volunteers, sponsors, and additional community partners. She shared the Komen story with a wider audience through a TV interview on KSDK NewsChannel 5 and an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

In less than two days, Judy saw for herself the Komen mission at work and the work happening every day to save lives and end breast cancer.

Komen St. Louis Community Partner: Family Care Health Centers’ Breast Health Screening Access Project

Community Partner

At Family Care Health Centers, the Breast Health Screening Access Project works to ensure that all patients get the breast health care they need.

With the help of two mammography vans provided through Barnes-Jewish Hospital, women are educated on their own breast cancer risk and have the opportunity to get a mammogram. The vans make visits to both Family Care Health Center locations once a month.

The program also offers patient navigation services for patients ages 40-64. Although navigation is available to all patients who meet the age requirement, over half of the women who benefit from the navigation services are uninsured. The other half are mostly low income; about 25 percent of them are on Medicaid, and the other 25 percent have insurance.

This is the 5th year of Komen St. Louis funding for this program.

Chereese Agard, RN and Breast Health Navigator, explains the importance of these services, especially for those patients whose lack of insurance presents a barrier to treatment. “Our project connects women with resources,” she says. “It is a great help to those who don’t have access to them or don’t know where to go for treatment.”

For a recipient of patient navigation services, the first step is an appointment with a mammography van.

Once that first appointment is scheduled, the navigator also follows up and provides additional services if necessary.

“The navigator will schedule follow-up appointments or appointments with a breast surgeon if needed,” says Chereese.

Last year, the Breast Health Screening Access Project, through Komen St. Louis funding, was able to provide patient navigation services to more than 1,000 women, allowing them to access the treatment they needed.

In 2013, Komen St. Louis granted $2.2 million to 13 local breast health programs in our 17-county Missouri/Illinois service area, including Family Care Health Centers’ Breast Health Screening Access Project. These grants help fund breast health and breast cancer screening, education and patient navigation services for those in our community who otherwise may not have access due to low income, lack of insurance or other barriers.