For those with inadequate or no health care coverage, a trip to the doctor’s office can be a luxury. And when cost is an issue, some women are faced with a tough decision: is my health a priority or a convenience? For other women, they are busy with being ‘mom’ and caregiver and don’t have the time to take care of themselves. Where many medical conditions of the breast are concerned, however, this can be a fatal mistake. Without a timely diagnosis, treatment might prove to be too little, too late.

CMBC Screening Event
A patient gathers resources at a CMBC screening event. Photo courtesy: Carol Milgard Breast Center

Thankfully, the Carol Milgard Breast Center (CMBC) is aware of these barriers and has become a staunch advocate for at-risk patients. Through the breast center’s generous donations and philanthropic efforts, it has taken the fight against financial barriers to diagnosis into their own hands. The breast center distributed $984,205 in community benefits to members of the South Puget Sound region in 2016 alone. Benefits included health and wellness activities, breast health education, community, financial and in-kind donations, and compassionate care services to patients who could not afford them. The services CMBC provides save patients’ lives and help ensure their future health.

Each year, CMBC gives back to our local communities to support and fund a variety of breast health programs and services. Charitable programs allow women to take advantage of financial assistance for breast screenings. In 2016, the breast center provided financial aid to over 142 patients. “We have a generous financial assistance program to cover the deductible or coinsurance and, if eligible, all charges may be covered,” says Barb Fox, Philanthropy Coordinator at Carol Milgard Breast Center. “We also offer the First Look Voucher Program, which provides financial assistance for women ages 34 and younger or men of any age – who are underinsured, low income, experiencing breast problems, and in need of diagnostic breast imaging services.”

Carol Milgard Breast Center
Carol Milgard Breast Center (CMBC) has become a staunch advocate for at-risk patients. Photo courtesy: Carol Milgard Breast Center

Connecting with diverse populations has also been a strong focus for CMBC in the past and figures heavily into the allocation of funds and services in planning for the future. In 2016, the breast center participated in more than 17 events, providing breast health education to groups representing Latina, LGBTQ, African American, Russian, Korean, Cambodian and Vietnamese community members. With a bilingual outreach person and strong social media strategy, CMBC also extended outreach to the Latina community, hosting focus groups and a screening event. In addition, as part of a continuing initiative for African American outreach, the breast center held monthly meetings to better understand barriers and identify opportunities for enhancing breast health in at-risk women. A major component of this campaign is CMBC’s FaithHealth in Action Program, an education and outreach initiative that partners with local church groups in the South Sound area to educate congregations about better breast and prostate health.

Screening events are an important part of the breast center’s mission. CMBC conducted five mammogram screening events in 2016, serving women who could not afford needed services. That same year, Carol Milgard Breast Center sponsored nine community events and programs, providing 17 breast health and wellness education programs for the community.

CMBC
CMBC gives back to our local communities to support and fund a variety of breast health programs and services. Photo courtesy: Carol Milgard Breast Center

Tea for the Soul, a quarterly emotional support group for cancer survivors and their caregivers or loved ones, celebrated its third year in 2017. Facilitated by the breast center’s Chaplain and Spiritual Care Coordinator, Tea for the Soul served more than 70 attendees in 2016.

When asked which of the good works CMBC is involved in has been the most beneficial to the community, Barb says it’s hard to narrow it down to just one. “It’s heartwarming to know that we are helping women receive the care they need. The outreach work we do is equally important because we are breaking down barriers and building trust with women who may not know we are here to help.”

What’s truly special about community giving at CMBC is that so much of this life-saving funding comes not from big companies or partner organizations, but rather from the community the breast center serves. “A large majority of our donations are from individuals,” says Barb. “Most have been touched by breast cancer in some way—either having been diagnosed or having lost a loved one from the disease. We have amazing support from local businesses and community organizations who fundraise on our behalf, too. We are extremely grateful for each and every donation we receive.”

Carol Milgard Breast Center
Screening events are an important part of the breast center’s mission. CMBC conducted five mammogram screening events in 2016, serving women who could not afford needed services. Photo courtesy: Carol Milgard Breast Center

As a non-profit organization, the breast center’s mission is to provide breast health services to all women in our community. To ensure that all women have better access to potentially life-saving mammography services, they look for support from individuals and community partners to help them in funding outreach efforts and screening mammograms. This funding will support CMBC’s programs such as providing screening mammograms to medically underserved patients, the First Look Voucher Program, Spiritual Care and the breast center’s community outreach.

If you are interested in supporting these wonderful programs and would like to donate to the Carol Milgard Breast Center, visit the Carol Milgard Breast Center website or contact Barb Fox, Philanthropy Coordinator at 253-301-6552. For more information about how to apply for the Carol Milgard Breast Center’s Financial Assistance Program, please contact CMBC’s Financial Aid Coordinator at 253-301-6616.

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