Susan G. Komen® Northern and Central California gathered community leaders on June 2, 2017 to showcase efforts that are underway to address breast cancer health disparities confronting our African American community, thanks to a $400,000 grant from Anthem Blue Cross Foundation.  

“As the second most common cancer among women in the United States, it’s crucial to educate all women about breast cancer, as early detection leads to earlier treatment and better outcomes,” said Steve Melody, Anthem Blue Cross Medi-Cal president. “This is why it’s so important to increase awareness among African-American women through innovative programs, and this is why Anthem Blue Cross Foundation strongly supports Komen’s Circle of Promise®”.

Promising greater health equity and a significant increase in positive breast cancer outcomes for African American women, Komen’s Circle of Promise® advocates discussed how they are making progress in Sacramento, Solano, Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties.

“Our goals are to reduce breast cancer morbidity and mortality among African American women by improving annual breast cancer screening compliance, increasing early detection rates, decreasing the late stage diagnosis rate, and improving survival rates for metastatic and non-metastatic breast cancer survivors” said Rhonda Smith, Breast Cancer Survivor and Circle of Promise Project Consultant. 

Gains from the war on breast cancer have sidestepped African American women. Prior to 1980, African American and Caucasian women faced nearly identical mortality rates of approximately 33 deaths per 100,000. But today, African American women are 40 % more likely to die of breast cancer than Caucasian women. 

In fact, these women are between 40 to 70 % more likely to have a late-stage diagnosis, are more likely to be diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, and are also more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age.

For women without health coverage, the burden is even greater—uninsured women have a 30 to 50 percent increased risk of dying from breast cancer than those with insurance.

Key community stakeholders and Komen worked collaboratively to devise a coordinated community-based activation plan focused on increasing access to quality care, enhancing utilization of primary care and health prevention services, and improving health knowledge and literacy. This collaboration aims to bring high quality breast cancer education and medical services to a community of women where knowledge and access to medical services has been limited.  These efforts will strive to create a permanent safety-net infrastructure through community collaboration.

“We are thrilled to partner with Susan G. Komen to elevate public understanding of breast cancer, dispel misperceptions, combat stigma and expand the breast cancer conversation to be more inclusive of triple negative and metastatic breast cancer “stated Pleshette Robertson, Executive Director of Sac Cultural Hub Media Foundation, Komen Grantee, and host of the gathering. “Our strategic partnership will also help facilitate access to quality breast health services and resources, and connect women diagnosed with breast cancer to patient navigation and support services”.  CLICK HERE to learn more about Sistahs Saving Sistahs program presented by Sac Cultural Hub Media Foundation.

All women and men, regardless of race, ethnicity, place of residence or socio-economic status, should be empowered to take personal action and access appropriate breast health services.  However, many African American women still face barriers to screening, diagnosis and treatment services.  “Through innovative ideas and collaboration, Komen will make a significant impact on the lives of African American women in Northern and Central California, said Kelly Mac Millan, Susan G. Komen Northern and Central California Executive Director.

Earlier this year, the Susan G. Komen Circle of Promise California Initiative was awarded a second grant of $400,000 from the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation, bringing the Foundation’s total investment to address breast care disparities among African-American women to $865,000 over the past five years.

“Without the leadership of the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation and its core belief that all people should have access to quality health care, none of this life-saving work would be possible,” said Kelly Mac Millan. 

About Susan G. Komen®

Susan G. Komen is the world’s largest breast cancer organization, funding more breast cancer research than any other nonprofit while providing real-time help to those facing the disease. Komen has set a Bold Goal to reduce the current number of breast cancer deaths by 50 percent in the U.S. by 2026. Komen was founded in 1982 by Nancy G. Brinker, who promised her sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would end the disease that claimed Suzy’s life.

About Anthem Blue Cross Foundation

Through charitable grant making, the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Association promotes Anthem Blue Cross’s inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that the company serves. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s annual associate giving campaign and its parent foundation provides a 50 percent match of associates’ campaign pledges. ®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross names and symbol are registered marks of the Blue Cross Association.

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