Editor’s Note: The following is the first in a series of articles about breast cancer awareness and the impact of the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation in the local community.
YADKINVILLE — National health-related charities raise billions of dollars a year towards research, but for many organizations like Susan G. Komen, there is also an important local impact as well.
Last year $12,000 was granted to Yadkin County through Komen and while that number may seem small to some, it most certainly was no small thing for the women who benefited. That amount covered 78 clinical breast exams, 68 mammograms or referrals and 33 diagnostics or referrals and four treatment services, according to Diana Parish, executive director for the Susan G. Komen Northwest NC office.
In the fight against breast cancer, health professionals say early detection is critical. Parish said the survival rate of those diagnosed at stage zero to two is 99 percent. As a reminder of the importance of continued research, Parish pointed out that the survival rate is up from 74 percent 20 years ago.
For a person without health insurance, regular doctor’s visits and check-ups may be something they think is not an option. There are, however, a number of options available at the Yadkin County Medical Clinic for those without insurance.
At age 40, it is recommend that women get their first mammogram, or even sooner for women with a direct relative who had breast cancer. At the Yadkin County Medical Clinic, those without health insurance can get access to screening mammograms, ultrasounds and diagnostic mammograms through the grant provided by Komen.
Debbie Dennis, nursing and clinic supervisor, said the options provided to patients through Komen have been invaluable in the community.
“I have diagnosed patients with breast cancer and without that grant, without the ability to get a diagnostic mammogram, I feel pretty certain that they would not have been able to detect and get treatment until it was further along,” Dennis said.
For patients who are diagnosed with breast cancer, Dennis said that Forsyth Medical Center and Wake Forest Baptist Health alternate cancer treatments for uninsured patients.
“They have been wonderful for these patients,” Dennis said. “From doing the surgery, to chemo, to radiation, even reconstructive surgery. So it’s just really a blessing for us and I think for the citizens of Yadkin.”
Patients who are able to get mammograms through this program are always so grateful, said Lorie Rose, a nurse at the clinic and liaison for the Komen program.
“The one thing that I hear over and over is that they did not know this was available, but they’re so thankful that it is just because of the expense involved,” Rose said. “If you’ve ever had a mammogram, you know how expensive it is, even with insurance. It would be a lot to ask of a person to pay that out of pocket, so I just think it’s a wonderful thing. It truly is.”
The information that Susan G. Komen provides in the community is also vital, said Jessica Wall, assistant to the director of human services.
“The other really strong piece that Komen provides health departments and in the community is promotion and education,” Wall said. “Because for as much time as they’re spending in the clinic pairing women up with the ability to be able to screen or diagnose breast cancer, they’re also in the community having events.”
Educating the public about healthy living and taking care of one’s self is so important Wall said.
“That’s where this is a really good marriage between Komen and a local health department because our real focus from the beginning of public health in North Carolina has been about promotion and education — preventing people from being sick and ill and leading unhealthy lifestyles. Komen puts so much emphasis on healthy eating and active living and normal exams and all these different aspects of living a healthy lifestyle,” Wall said.
For more information about services available at the Yadkin County Medical Clinic call 336-679-4210. For information about events and programming through the local Susan G. Komen affiliate, visit www.komennorthwestnc.org.
Kitsey E. Burns may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.