More access coming for women needing breast health services

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National Minority Cancer Awareness Week April 15 - 21

$1.7 million awarded for outreach, culturally appropriate services

SEATTLE - American Indian and Alaska Native women in western Washington will have better access to breast health care, education, screening and treatment, thanks to $1.7 million in grants from a Susan G. Komen for the Cure Puget Sound affiliate.

Komen for the Cure, formerly known as the Susan G. Komen Foundation, was founded in 1982 by Nancy Brinker, the sister of Komen, who died from breast cancer at 36. It raises money through its Race for the Cure and other local events.

Some $689,733 was awarded for breast cancer screening and support services, including the South Puget Intertribal Planning Agency's Native Women's Wellness program.

This program provides screening mammograms in five rural tribal communities to low-income women who are rarely, or have never been, screened for breast cancer. It also provides diagnostic services for women who need additional follow-up and care.

The wellness program is expected to reach at least 2,000 Chehalis, Nisqually, Shoalwater Bay, Skokomish and Squaxin Island women.

Just over $450,000 was awarded to programs providing culturally appropriate breast health education and access to breast cancer screenings.

Family Planning of Clallam County's Honoring Women's Health project will take mobile day clinics and health fairs into remote areas of Clallam and Jefferson counties to reach low-income, rural, medically

underserved Native and Mexican-American women.

The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe's Pink Paddle Project provides breast health outreach and awareness services to the Lower Elwha Klallam community, as well as support services for breast cancer patients and survivors.

This initiative was developed within a framework of Northwest Native culture and incorporates canoe pulling into its activities. Breast cancer survivors participate in the Canoe Journey, an annual event of cultural significance to coastal Northwest Native communities. Last year, participants carved paddles that they used in the journey.

The Positive Women's Network's Breast Health Program provides breast health education and outreach services to medically underserved women living in five Washington counties. The program will train local health agencies to hold mobile screenings at their sites to reach low-income, rural American Indian and Mexican-American women living in Island, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties.

The Samoan National Nurses Association's Pacific Islander Breast Cancer outreach and education program will promote culturally appropriate breast cancer education and screening services to Chamorro, Hawaiian, Samoan and Tongan women. It expects to reach at least 300 women and 500 family members.

This project will also help create a continuum of support by working with clinics, churches and cultural and social groups to promote breast cancer early detection and support services.

Some $560,613 was awarded to culturally appropriate treatment and support services that reach medically underserved, low-income, rural American Indian and Mexican-American women, as well as black, Asian and Pacific Islander women.

The Breast Cancer Resource Center's Outreach, Education and Treatment Support project will provide a variety of services for breast cancer patients living in the area of Kitsap, Pierce, Thurston and South King Countries. Services include a client service coordinator to help patients connect with services, a resource library, a therapeutic support group, yoga and relaxation classes and a resource closet with no-cost wigs, head coverings, prostheses and bras.

All women will benefit from other programs funded by Komen for the Cure.

The Cancer Lifeline's Komen Cancer Patient Assistance Fund provides financial assistance for specific living expenses and non-medical treatment costs for low-income breast cancer patients in the Puget Sound's 16-county area.

The Cancer Lifeline's Lymphedema Program provides educational lectures, small-group meetings and exercise classes to help patients reduce or control lymphedema, which is swelling caused by lymph node removal or radiation.

The program will also distribute to women in need an informational DVD about lymphedema risk reduction and treatment, which is dubbed into seven different languages.

Community Health Centers of King County's Resilience Assessment for Breast Cancer Patients will help low-income breast cancer patients find resources, access counseling, keep their housing and complete cancer treatment.

The program's case manager will assess each patient to determine the level of support that she will require to successfully complete cancer treatment, and will work with her medical team to fine-tune their explanations, timing and types of treatment to match the individual's level of resilience.

Operation Uplift's North Olympic Peninsula Cancer outreach program will provide no-cost support services, outdoor activities and programs for female cancer survivors as well as a breast health clinic for underserved women in need of breast health education and screening.

Richard Walker is a correspondent reporting from San Juan Island, Wash. Contact him at rmwalker@rockisland.com.

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