KeyBank announced Wednesday it is joining the fight against breast cancer with a $1 million grant from its foundation to fund breast cancer education and support in 18 Toledo-area communities.
The announcement came during a breast health summit hosted by the foundation and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The two organizations teamed up for the cause and the summit, where more than 40 people were trained as Komen community health advisers.
The grant will fund an outreach program in which advisers will give one-on-one outreach and support to minority and medically underserved women in the Toledo area.
The following agencies provide free or low-cost mammograms to Toledo-area residents. Eligibility varies by agency.
■Breast and Cervical Cancer Project, Region 4: 1-800-929-6626
■ Mercy Health Partners: 419-696-5839
■ProMedica Cancer Institute: 419-824-1126
■ Toledo-Lucas County CareNet: 419-842-0800
■ University of Toledo: 419-530-4171
"We try to help our community strive, and one way to do that is to improve health," said Jim Hoffman, president of KeyBank's Michigan/northwest Ohio district. "Breast cancer is a pressing issue in our community; that's why an initiative such as this is crucial to encourage early detection and treatment."
Mary Johnson knows firsthand the importance of early detection. The 61-year-old Toledo woman has eight family members who were diagnosed with breast cancer. One of them, a cousin, died.
"There's a need for information and support," said Mrs. Johnson, a retired social worker and 10-year volunteer with Komen.
"A lot of people of color are not aware of the need for self-examination and the resources that are available. We have to talk about this and about the fibers of our being. You don't have to die from this."
Mrs. Johnson was one of 44 people who participated in the training. Through churches, employers, community organizations, and civic activities, advisers will reach out to minority, low-income, uninsured, and underserved women in their communities, offering information on breast health and connecting them with resources for mammograms and in some cases, treatment.
In Lucas County, an estimated 37 percent of women older than 40 have gone without a mammogram in the last 12 months.
"Minority women have a much more significant risk of dying from breast cancer because their diagnosis comes much later," said Mary Westphal, executive director of the Northwest Ohio Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. "What this does is put into place a program where they learn to understand the importance of breast health and having their mammograms."
Sarah Summit, a registered nurse from Carey, Ohio, is a breast health educator for her employer. Now, as a trained Komen community health adviser, she'll be able to share information with even more women.
"My heart goes into women's health. It's what I'm passionate about" Ms. Summit, 31, said. "On top of that, I've been touched by cancer personally. My dad died from it a year ago and we had a nurse navigator who was there with us through it all. I don't know what would've done without her.
"I want to be that person that touches people's lives," Ms. Summit added. "When they don't know where to turn, they can turn to me."
Contact RoNeisha Mullen at: email@example.com or 419-724-6133.