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Fort Lauderdale

Holy Cross Partners in Breast Health Program

The Florida Breast Cancer Foundation has awarded the Michael and Dianne Bienes Comprehensive Cancer Center at Holy Cross Hospital a $10,000 grant for an educational and awareness campaign targeting Hispanic and African American women and men.

The Holy Cross Partners in Breast Health Program is designed to create awareness of breast health, increase knowledge on how to access breast health care and overcome barriers in accessing breast health care for 250 women and men in Broward County in the hope of reducing advanced diagnoses and cancer mortality. Breast cancer continues to be one of the most common causes of death among African American and Hispanic women. Nationwide, African American women are approximately 37 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than women who are white non-Hispanic.

“This population faces several barriers including lack of education and awareness about breast cancer, poverty, lack of or inadequate health insurance, poor access to care, racial discrimination, language, lower preventive care utilization, cancer fatalism and other cultural issues,” said Project Director Christina Austin-Valere, PhD, LCSW. “This is a grassroots, community-based program to reach the underserved population in our community. We will offer the Partners in Breast Health Program to local non-profit organizations that reach those most in need by partnering with local universities to recruit and train student nurses as facilitators. That way, nurses can have an impact early on in their careers and help save lives at the same time.”

More than 20 breast health workshops will be scheduled that are culturally-appropriate for each target population. Each workshop will focus on healthy lifestyles, breast cancer detection and community resources and will include the recommended screening guidelines by the American Cancer Society, which recommends that women who are 40 or older have a screening mammogram done annually and maintain this practice as long as they remain in good health. Women who are in their 20s and 30s should have a Clinical Breast Exam (CBE) in conjunction with their routine health exam performed by their physician at least every three years. An annual CBE should be done for women who are 40 or older.

“Participants will gain the tools and motivation they need to prevent and detect breast cancer early thus improving survival,” said Dr. Austin-Valere. “They will also be educated as to what to do if or when a problem is detected and where to go for treatment.”

A licensed clinical social worker and the Breast Health Navigator at Holy Cross Hospital will be available to participants for help in scheduling appointments and for financial assistance and support.

“Culturally-sensitive breast health education provided in community-based settings by trained facilitators is one of the most important health care needs of minority women and men,” said Dr. Austin-Valere. “The effort must also include ways to empower minority women and men to be active participants in their breast health.”

Among the groups that will be contacted to host the workshops are the Urban League of Broward County, Hispanic Unity of Florida, Minority Empowerment and Development Inc. and the Holy Cross Hospital Community Outreach Department.

For more information, please contact Dr. Austin-Valere at 954-267-7770