Komen St. Louis Community Partner: SLU Cancer Center’s Educating Women About Hereditary Risk for Developing Breast Cancer

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A woman who discovers she is at risk for developing breast cancer may wonder if someone else in her family is also at risk. That very thought can help save a life.

An estimated 10 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a hereditary predisposition to the disease and are at substantial risk for a second breast cancer; 50 percent of their first-degree relatives also carry a very high risk (92%) for developing early onset breast cancer.

“People need to understand what that risk is,” says Suzanne Mahon, RN, DNSc, AOCN, founder of the Hereditary Cancer Program at Saint Louis University Cancer Center. “Our goal is to provide a good risk assessment, appropriate counseling and coordinated care for the family.”

Through the Educating Women About Hereditary Risk for Developing Breast Cancer program, Mahon provides women who have an inherited predisposition — and their families — with the support and care they need.

The program educates patients about their breast cancer risks through a comprehensive family history review and, when appropriate, genetic testing. This education and counseling addresses the potential risks, benefits and ramifications of genetic testing as well as recommendations for early detection and prevention through strategies such as prophylactic surgery.

“We saw 212 families in the last calendar year,” says Mahon. “If one member of the family tests positive, then I’m going to see the sister or daughter or aunt as well.”

Funding from Komen St. Louis makes the program available to families who may not otherwise have access. This is the 11th year of Komen St. Louis funding for this program.

“We are just thrilled that Komen St. Louis funding has allowed us to have this program,” says Mahon. “It’s good for Komen because they know if we see someone and they need testing, we’re going to get it done.”

In 2012, Komen St. Louis granted nearly $3.1 million to 25 local breast health programs in our 17-county Missouri/Illinois service area, including the Educating Women About Hereditary Risk for Breast Cancer program at Saint Louis University Cancer Center. These grants help fund breast health and breast cancer screening, treatment, education and support services for those in our community who otherwise may not have access due to low income, lack of insurance or other barriers.

Komen St. Louis Community Partner: Food Outreach’s Nutritional Support for Low-Income African-American Breast Cancer Patients

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As any breast cancer survivor will tell you, maintaining proper nutrition during treatment is paramount.

Thanks to grant funding from Komen St. Louis, Food Outreach provides comprehensive nutritional support to help low-income, African-American breast cancer patients maintain strength, cope with side effects and optimize treatments. These patients access a tailored nutrition program, which is a powerful tool in their disease management.

Food Outreach’s breast cancer clients receive freshly prepared frozen meals, groceries and nutritional counseling. Food Outreach dietitians meet with each client for a nutritional status assessment and nutrition counseling, and recommend an eating plan based on assessment results, treatments and secondary illnesses. The dietitians and the organization’s chef develop menus targeting clients’ specific nutrition needs.

“A breast cancer client once told me during her treatment that our program was ‘the difference between eating well and not eating at all’,” says Greg Lukeman, Food Outreach Executive Director. “Since receiving Komen St. Louis grants beginning in 2007, we have never had a waiting list for our breast cancer clients.”

The services Food Outreach provides are not typically available through traditional food pantries and are often otherwise inaccessible due to clients’ limited financial resources.

“Our clients are the working poor or those who are experiencing a significant drop in income by missing work days due to their illness, as well as those who have experienced poverty most of their lives,” says Karin Moody, Food Outreach Community Affairs Officer.

Since 2007, Komen St. Louis funding has provided more than 125,653 nutritiously tailored meals and groceries, combined with nutrition counseling and education, to more than 270 low-income breast cancer patients residing in St. Louis City and surrounding counties in Missouri and Illinois.

“Support from Komen St. Louis enables us to provide critical nutritional support to low-income breast cancer clients who would not otherwise have access to the nutritious food that helps them maintain their strength during treatment, cope with chemotherapy side effects and rebuild tissue damaged from surgery and radiation,” says Karin. “Komen funding has made an incredible impact on the lives of Food Outreach’s breast cancer clients.”

During this sixth year of Komen St. Louis funding, Food Outreach will provide 42,630 nutritious meals to breast cancer patients. That is a lot of love and hope in the form of a good meal for those fighting breast cancer.

In 2012, Komen St. Louis granted nearly $3.1 million to 25 local breast health programs in our 17-county Missouri/Illinois service area, including the Nutritional Support for Low-Income African-American Breast Cancer Patients program at Food Outreach. These grants help fund breast health and breast cancer screening, treatment, education and support services for those in our community who otherwise may not have access due to low income, lack of insurance or other barriers.

Komen St. Louis Community Partner: Madison County Health Department’s Bridging the Screening Gap Program

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Every day, throughout our 17-county Missouri/Illinois service area, Komen St. Louis community grants are making a difference in the lives of women, men and families facing a breast cancer diagnosis.

“Our Komen St. Louis-funded program is essential to our ability to provide breast cancer screening services to residents who otherwise would not have access to them,” says Amy Yeager, Health Promotion Manager at Madison County Health Department. “It helps ease fears, creates routines, educates and saves lives.”

Ten years ago, with Komen St. Louis funding, Madison County Health Department established its Bridging the Screening Gap program to help screen low-income women who would not be covered by the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP). After the first year, Komen funding also covered outreach and education, in addition to more screenings.

“Collectively, these outreach and education efforts enhanced our screening services by helping to find, reach and recruit women and men to receive screenings, as well as increase the awareness and knowledge of residents about breast health,” says Amy.

Bridging the Screening Gap generates awareness of the importance of breast health screening and the availability of screening services, while also providing screening and diagnostic mammograms, breast ultrasounds and exams to uninsured and underserved people in Madison County. This is the tenth year of Komen St. Louis funding for this program.

“Funding from Komen St. Louis is vital to our ability to provide our citizens with breast health services,” says Amy. “Although we receive funding from the IBCCP through the Illinois Department of Health, there are restrictions on who that funding covers; it still leaves gaps in access to services for women of certain ages, income levels, and insurance coverage, and it does not cover services for men. The Komen St. Louis funds fill those gaps for us in Madison County.”

In 2012, Komen St. Louis granted nearly $3.1 million to 25 local breast health programs in our 17-county Missouri/Illinois service area, including the Bridging the Screening Gap program at Madison County Health Department. These grants help fund breast health and breast cancer screening, treatment, education and support services for those in our community who otherwise may not have access due to low income, lack of insurance or other barriers.

 

Komen St. Louis Community Partner: Jefferson Regional Medical Center’s Breast Health Awareness and Screening Program for Women in Rural Southeastern Missouri

 

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Helping underserved women gain access to mammograms and, if necessary, treatment for breast cancer hits close to home for Anita McEntire. She is a Breast Health Navigator at Jefferson Regional Medical Center who also has had to navigate through the journey of breast cancer in her own life.

“I’m a five-year breast cancer survivor myself,” says Anita. “I was an uninsured mother of three, and it was a struggle. I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what I’ve been through.”

Anita uses her personal experience to guide her as the Program Director of the Breast Health Awareness and Screening Program at Jefferson Regional. To promote breast health awareness and the early detection of breast cancer, this program provides comprehensive breast health education, screening and support for underserved, uninsured women in rural Jefferson, Perry, Ste. Genevieve and Washington counties.

“We provide clinical breast exams, diagnostic testing, imaging services, breast ultrasounds and biopsies for our patients,” says Anita.

Funding from Komen St. Louis makes these services available for women in need. This is the ninth year of Komen St. Louis funding for this program.

In just the last six months, the program has served more than 100 women. This accomplishment is evidence that women are in need of such a support system, to help with everything from screening mammograms, which aid in the early detection of breast cancer, to treatment after a breast cancer diagnosis. The program’s resources, combined with her own breast cancer experience, assist Anita in reaching women in rural southeastern Missouri.

“Our mission is in alignment with Komen’s mission,” says Anita. “We make sure women have access to breast health services.”

In 2012, Komen St. Louis granted nearly $3.1 million to 25 local breast health programs in our 17-county Missouri/Illinois service area, including Jefferson Regional Medical Center’s Breast Health Awareness and Screening Program for Women in Rural Southeastern Missouri. These grants help fund breast health and breast cancer screening, treatment, education and support services for those in our community who otherwise may not have access due to low income, lack of insurance or other barriers.

 

Komen St. Louis Community Partner: The Breakfast Club’s Education, Awareness, Resources, Support (E.A.R.S.) Program

CommunityPartnerImage“When I was diagnosed in 1992, I thought having breast cancer was the worst thing that could happen to me, but it’s actually changed my life. It’s become a passion in my life,” says Sherrill Jackson, Founder and President of The Breakfast Club, Inc.

As a 20-year breast cancer survivor, Sherrill knows a thing or two about the joys and pains of living with the disease. Through her experience, she recognized a need for a breast cancer support group in the community. This inspired her to establish The Breakfast Club, a group of women dealing with breast cancer and coming together to lift up one another.

“Most of the women in our group are breast cancer survivors,” says Sherrill.

Komen St. Louis funding for The Breakfast Club’s E.A.R.S. (Education, Awareness, Resources, Support) program helps provide bras and breast prostheses. Women who have had mastectomies and who are uninsured or underinsured are sent to the Medical West Breast Prosthesis Center for fittings and provided with bras and prostheses. The program is helping to restore the self-esteem of many women who have undergone mastectomies. This is the 12th year of Komen St. Louis funding for this program.

“Many of the women are overwhelmed that they go there with no money and get professionally fit, and Komen funding provides that for them,” says Sherrill. “We get lots of letters and cards from the women who were helped, saying they have a new lease on life now.”

In 2012, Komen St. Louis granted nearly $3.1 million to 25 local breast health programs in our 17-county Missouri/Illinois service area, including The Breakfast Club’s E.A.R.S. program. These grants help fund breast health and breast cancer screening, treatment, education and support services for those in our community who otherwise may not have access due to low income, lack of insurance or other barriers.

Komen St. Louis Community Partner: Christian Hospital’s Protecting and Healing Women Program

CommunityPartnerImageIn the past year, nearly 400 uninsured or underinsured women have been served through the Protecting and Healing Women program at Christian Hospital with the help of Komen St. Louis funding. The program is providing women in need with screening mammograms and patient navigation to guide them throughout testing and treatment.

“There’s a need for it. There are so many women falling through the cracks,” says Patricia Polk, Outreach Coordinator at Christian Hospital. “We have had two women within the last six months diagnosed with breast cancer who would not have been helped without this program.”

These women have been so impacted by the program that they go on to tell friends and coworkers about it. This generates an awareness of breast cancer in the community. With the support of a strong outreach staff, Patricia is able to back up the program’s word-of-mouth promotion with professional service and care.

“If I can save one life, I would have done my job,” says Patricia. “My vision is to see the program grow.”

The program is heavily invested in the community, with a focus on reaching out to women facing hardships such as unemployment and lack of transportation or child care. Patricia and her outreach staff also help navigate patients through the process of additional testing and treatment as needed. This is the fifth year of Komen St. Louis funding for the Protecting and Healing Women program.

“It gives me great honor and great pleasure to help these women,” says Patricia. “I don’t even want to begin to think of what would happen to those two women who have been diagnosed. There are so many more women to reach. The program is helping tremendously.”

In 2012, Komen St. Louis granted nearly $3.1 million to local breast health programs in our 17-county Missouri/Illinois service area, including the Protecting and Healing Women program at Christian Hospital. These grants help fund breast health and breast cancer screening, treatment, education and support services for those in our community who otherwise may not have access due to low income, lack of insurance or other barriers.

Komen St. Louis Community Partner: SSM Breast Care’s Empowering and Engaging Women Program

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“Women, regardless of their economic status, should have the same access to screening. The mission of Komen aligns well with SSM in that regard,” says Sandy Cobb, program director at SSM Breast Care.

The team at SSM Breast Care works to save the lives of women with breast cancer through the Empowering and Engaging Women program. Hundreds of women have been served in the past year through the program’s Komen St. Louis-funded screening and diagnostic services.

“Our main objective is to reach as many women as we can so that they have the information and feel empowered to get screened and to know their risk,” says Sandy.

SSM Health Care’s St. Clare Health Center, St. Mary’s Health Center, St. Joseph Health Center, St. Joseph Medical Park and St. Joseph Hospital West service this program to women who would not otherwise be able to afford it. Komen St. Louis funding enables these facilities to assist uninsured and underinsured women in the community. This is the 11th year of Komen St. Louis funding for this program.

“So many people who don’t have health insurance, Komen enables me to bring them in,” says Mary Fitzgerald, nurse practitioner at SSM. “They are ‘the forgotten people,’ ‘the hidden population,’ and they have been so grateful.”

The nurse practitioners at SSM have the privilege of witnessing the impact of the Empowering and Engaging Women program every day.

“I see all of the women that come through, and many of the women we’re seeing have nowhere else to turn,” says Karen Schapp, nurse practitioner at SSM. “I’ve been a nurse for a long time now, and working with Komen has been one of the best things I’ve been involved with.”

In 2012, Komen St. Louis granted nearly $3.1 million to 25 local breast health programs in our 17-county Missouri/Illinois service area, including the Empowering and Engaging Women program at SSM. These grants help fund breast health and breast cancer screening, treatment, education and support services for those in our community who otherwise may not have access due to low income, lack of insurance or other barriers.