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Grants to aid breast cancer fight

Susan G. Komen gifts will fund mammograms and education for 1,000 American Indian women

By Kim Archer -- Tulsa World

TUSLA, Okla. - About 1,000 American Indian women in Tulsa will receive mammograms or self-exam education this year as a result of grants awarded Jan. 23 to aid in the fight against breast cancer.

The Tulsa affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure selected four Tulsa nonprofit groups to receive $265,000 in grants to help prevent and fight breast cancer. An additional $92,707 was earmarked for national breast cancer research.

For the Indian Health Care Resource Center of Tulsa, the $55,800 grant will have a ''huge impact'' on uninsured American Indian women who are patients there, said Katy Johnson, the center's mammographer.

''I've seen women literally in tears because they didn't know how they were going to pay for a mammogram,'' she said.

Although American Indian women have a lower incidence of breast cancer per capita, their survival rates are lower because they wait so long to get screened, Johnson said.

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Many of the center's patients don't have insurance coverage, she said. But financial concerns aren't the only barriers.

''There are cultural barriers as well. Native Americans have more of a whole spirit-body concept,'' she said. ''But if we can alleviate the financial barrier aspect, it gives us an open door to working around the cultural barrier.''

Other grant recipients:

"Tulsa Project Woman Inc., a Tulsa-area health care coalition, received $190,870 to provide access to breast-health care and education to women with limited financial resources.

"Y-Me National Breast Cancer Organization, Northeastern Oklahoma affiliate, received $13,330 to provide peer support through monthly facilitated support groups.

"St. John Health System received $5,000 for its wig loan program, which provides fresh, updated wigs for women undergoing cancer treatment. An estimated 200 women each year are provided a loaner wig at no charge during treatment.

Seventy-five percent of funds raised by the Tulsa affiliate remains in Tulsa, with 25 percent going toward national breast cancer research, local officials said.

Copyright (c) 2007, Tulsa World, Okla. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.