Originally Published: October 9, 2016 10:08 a.m.
PRESCOTT – Falling as it does right in the midst of the women’s volleyball season, Breast Cancer Awareness Month was a natural cause for the women’s volleyball squads at two local colleges.
Mammograms available to uninsured and under-insured through variety of fundraising efforts
PRESCOTT – Hundreds of free mammograms; purchase of state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment; help for cancer patients with limited resources: These are among the many benefits that breast-cancer awareness fundraising efforts have brought to the community.
Robbie Nicol, executive director of the Yavapai Regional Medical Center Foundation, reports that about $50,000 has gone from the Community BreastCare Fund toward providing help to those in need in recent years.
“Thanks to the generous support from donors in our community, the Community BreastCare Fund is available to women and men of western Yavapai County,” Nicol said.
Managed by YRMC, the fund provides mammography screening and a host of other services – including breast risk assessments, consultations, and support – for those who lack adequate health insurance or whose insurance coverage has high copays or deductibles.
Just over the past year, more than 160 qualified uninsured or under-insured patients have received a mammogram at no cost at YRMC’s BreastCare Center, Nicol said.
At the Community Health Center of Yavapai, 300 or so more have received free screening mammograms through another fundraising source – the Susan G. Komen Arizona.
Kevin Goss, business manager for clinical services with the Community Health Center of Yavapai, said the county health center has received more than $470,000 through Susan G. Komen since 2004.
“In recent years, SGK (Susan G. Komen) has allowed us to provide an average of nearly 300 free screening mammograms annually to uninsured patients,” Goss said. “Each year, SGK also allows us to provide dozens of free breast cancer diagnostic services, such as diagnostic mammograms, breast ultrasounds, and breast biopsies.”
Uninsured or under-insured people who wish to schedule an appointment with the Community Health Center of Yavapai may call 928-583-1000.
The Community Health Center of Yavapai, which must submit an application each year for the grant, has received a Susan G. Komen grant for the past 13 years.
Frank Nagy, mission director for Susan G. Komen Arizona, said the Yavapai Community Health Services is just one of several of the organization’s beneficiaries in Yavapai County.
In all, Nagy said, Susan G. Komen has provided $590,268 to Yavapai County efforts, allowing for 2,134 mammograms, 403 individuals educated, 557 diagnostics, and 27 patients treated.
Along with the help from Susan G. Komen, Goss said the Community Health Center of Yavapai has also received regular contributions from Fry’s. “Fry’s has donated a total of $31,000 to the (Community Health Center of Yavapai) during the last four years,” Goss said, noting that the company contributed $7,000 per year from 2012 through 2014, and $10,000 in 2015.
“We have used that money to offer free breast cancer screening and diagnosis services to additional patients beyond those who received such services through Komen,” Goss said.
Along with the screening and diagnostic services, YRMC also has used community contributions to pay for new equipment, Nicol said, such as new mammography technology known as breast tomosynthesis, which reportedly finds 41 percent more aggressive cancers and can reduce patient recall rates by as much as 40 percent.
In addition, donated funds are used to help financially challenged patients maintain medical appointments by providing gasoline vouchers or underwriting transportation costs, Nicol said.
For five years running, the Yavapai College and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) women’s volleyball teams have played one another in the fierce Crosstown Battle Against Breast Cancer – an October match that regularly raises thousands of dollars for Yavapai Regional Medical Center’s BreastCare Center.
“The Crosstown Battle came to life because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and it is during our season,” Jill Blasczyk, head women’s volleyball coach at ERAU, said, noting that volleyball as a sport has embraced the cause as well, with its “Dig Pink” campaign.
Although the two local college teams play one another in their regular season, Blasczyk said both coaches wanted to give the exhibition match additional meaning. “We both have experienced breast cancer in our families,” she said.
And since 2012, the community has responded. “We raise about $3,500 to $4,000 each year,” with about 300 people regularly turning out and paying the admission and/or buying commemorative T-shirts, Blasczyk said.
Robbie Nicol, executive director of the Yavapai Regional Medical Center Foundation, points out that the Crosstown Battle is just one of many community efforts that take place to help promote breast cancer awareness.
Other fundraisers include: Barrett Propane’s Gallons of Pink year-around program; Fork in the Road Restaurants’ (Gurley Street Grill, Murphy’s, and the Office Cantina) Boot Out Cancer campaign that dedicates a percentage of special sales and boot-shaped koozie sales to the center; Home & Land Magazine’s Special Pink Ribbon Edition; Prescott Frontier Days’ Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign; Texas Roadhouse’s Stomp Out Breast Cancer T-shirts and bracelets; and Tri-City Knights’ Cars for Care.
Also this year, the Prescott Center for the Arts plans a production of “Calendar Girls” at The English Garden Tea Room (4 to 6 p.m., Oct. 22, 220 W. Goodwin St., Suite 1), for which a portion of the proceeds will benefit the BreastCare Center.
“The community’s support for the BreastCare Center is so heart-warming; it’s amazing,” Nicol said. “We are extremely grateful for these kinds of activities.”
Over the years, the money raised has gone toward everything from the purchase of new equipment for the BreastCare Center, to free
mammography screenings, to support for Share the Care – a community-wide education program to support good breast health practices and spread awareness of and access to breast care. Also, Nicol added that money donated by the Jewish Community Foundation of Prescott is underwriting the production of the BreastCare Center’s comprehensive patient handbook.
Along with the local fundraising, efforts around the state have also served to benefit the cause in Yavapai County.
Frank Nagy, mission director at Susan G. Komen Arizona reports that money raised through the annual Phoenix Race for the Cure regularly goes toward breast-cancer awareness services in Yavapai County.
“The Phoenix Race for the Cure is our main fundraiser, but local donations to Komen Arizona throughout the year also help in providing these critical services in places like Yavapai County,” Nagy said.
Overall, he said, the organization has put a total of $590,268 toward Yavapai County efforts such as: the Prescott Free Clinic ($12,000); the Yavapai Apache Nation ($21,840); Yavapai County Health Department ($68,506); Yavapai County Community Health Services ($469,364); and Yavapai Regional Medical Center ($18,558).
The Susan G. Komen Phoenix Race for the Cure (set for Sunday, Oct. 9 this year) annually invites supporters of all ages to walk, run, or even “sleep in” to raise money for the cause.
In December 2015, Komen Arizona was formed through merging the Susan G. Komen affiliates of Central and Northern Arizona and Southern Arizona, according to an organization news release, which added: “As a merged affiliate, Komen Arizona has raised more than $34.5 million for local breast cancer support and research advancements to date.”
Seventy-five percent of all funds raised stay in Arizona, the news released added, while the remaining 25 percent goes to Komen’s leading international breast cancer research program.