PALM BEACH COUNTY — On March 23, Susan G. Komen® Florida announced the expansion of its first-in-nation breast health navigation program for women of diversity as it approaches its one-year anniversary. Komen Florida launched the Community-Based Breast Health Navigator Pilot Program on May 21, 2018 with funding from Quantum Foundation to provide education and patient navigation services to primarily African American women who have a 40% higher mortality rate than white women. Since the program’s inception nearly one year ago in Delray Beach it has reached over 1,800 women.
The navigation program’s effectiveness in terms of people reached and potential lives saved has been so successful that Komen Florida has attracted new funding to expand to the rural Glades Region surrounding Lake Okeechobee. A Palm Beach County family foundation has contributed $50,000 to support the new service in this high-poverty region where the majority of residents identify as black or African American and the leading cause of death is cancer.
The Glades navigation program will follow the Delray Beach model led by Marie Seide, a breast cancer survivor who has made it her mission to save the lives of others, especially in her own Haitian community. Seide has united local partners and community resources to create a network of support and education to dispel myths, address cultural barriers, and overcome other hurdles that keep women from seeking preventative care and diagnosis.
Seide has become a trusted community resource in Delray Beach and beyond, often working through churches to find women in need and guide them through every step of their care while alleviating fears along the way. A recent note from a beneficiary of the program shared her gratitude by stating, “I am very grateful to Komen South Florida for sending me my own guardian angel and I would like to let her know how appreciative I am … to have such a brave person by my side throughout this stressful period in my life.”
Kate Watt, executive director of Komen Florida and founder of the program, has seen the deep need for navigation services in areas affected by health disparities across the state. “So many women don’t know where to turn, how to ask for help, or even which doctors to see,” said Watt. “We pioneered this unique community-based model to break through barriers, increase early detection and help women connect to life-saving services. Our vision is to expand our navigation services across the state and be a model for the nation. As part of the world’s largest breast cancer organization with resources second to none, we know we will succeed.”
Komen Florida expects to launch the Glades Region Community-Based Breast Health Navigator Program in June 2019.
About Susan G. Komen Florida
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 was founded by Nancy G. Brinker, who promised her sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would end the disease that claimed Suzy’s life. Komen Florida is working to better the lives of those facing breast cancer in local communities across its service area of southwest, central, north, south and the Florida Suncoast regions. Komen Florida has invested nearly $57 million in community breast health programs and has helped contribute to the more than $988 million invested globally in research. For more information, call 561-514-3020 or visit www.komenflorida.org.