By Heidi Kauffman, Women’s Cancer Program Coordinator
YWCA Greater Lafayette
The YWCA Greater Lafayette Women’s Cancer Program pays for uninsured women and women with high deductibles to get breast and cervical cancer screenings. Our region covers 23 Indiana counties, and through the Indiana State Department of Health’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IN-BCCP), we contract with over 100 medical providers and 17 hospitals to provide the screenings. This way, the woman can go to a provider near where she lives. In addition to the IN-BCCP, we receive grants from Susan G Komen Central Indiana Affiliate, Avon Breast Health Outreach Program, and the Indiana Breast Cancer Awareness Trust. We also have amazing community support with fundraisers and donations.
When a woman calls our office, we do a short interview to see if she qualifies for the program. Then we schedule an appointment for a clinical breast exam and Pap test in a clinic near where she lives. We tell her that she will also get a mammogram and, if any of the tests are abnormal and require further procedures, we reassure her that we will be able to pay for those as well. If she does need another procedure, we continue to make appointments for her and pay for them. In Tippecanoe County, we provide transportation to appointments for women who need it and interpretation at appointments for Spanish-speaking women.
If a woman is diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer, we help her apply for treatment funding. Our patient navigators – one of whom speaks Spanish – then contacts her and explains how they are available to help her as she goes through treatment. The role of our patient navigators is to remove barriers women might face in order to get or complete treatment, such as access to care, transportation, language and financial impediments. Specific things we have helped patients with include: no food in their pantry upon getting home from surgery; no one to provide wound care for them after surgery; having to walk a mile from the bus stop to the hospital for chemotherapy appointments; not realizing that Medicaid can help with prostheses and bras; or not knowing there are salons who shave heads and provide wigs at no charge. Our patient navigators have worked diligently to forge partnerships with organizations and individuals in the communities we serve who are able to help our patients with all of the above barriers and quality of life issues.
This year, the YWCA Greater Lafayette collaborated with the Purdue Health and Kinesiology Department to provide the Cancer Wellness Program to survivors of all cancers. The mission of this program is to increase the quality of life of cancer survivors by providing fitness training programs that meet the guidelines and requirements of the American Cancer Society and American College of Sports Medicine. (There is a fee for this program, but scholarships are also available.)
Here are some thank you letters from our wonderful participants, which illustrate how great the need is for many women to obtain essential health screenings through Women’s Cancer Program.
To all at the YWCA,
I have been a single mom for 20 years now, and I am truly blessed to have my son. I had cervical cancer why I was 28 years old and was told I would never have children. All my life I wanted “ten” kids, but at the age of 34 I became pregnant by a miracle from God. My partner of two years deserted us totally, but we have survived by having the privilege of using programs like you have.
You have helped us through the years and I truly “thank you” for that. I am still cancer-free and very blessed for that too! Thanks to all who are involved with your program and also to those generous people who help support you all with their donations. Without them, this would not be possible.
Once again, “Thank you” from the bottom of my heart for the services you offer.
Just wanted to send a Thank You Dearly, for the recent tests that I had done for my health. I absolutely don’t know what I’d do without your help right now – Thank you again and God Bless all of you who had a part in this – so, so, so, appreciated and blessed to have such services in our community for those how need it.
I thought, since we did not have the opportunity to meet in person, I would write you a little about me in thanks for the assistance that the YWCA Women’s Cancer Program has given me, with yearly mammograms for two years, the GYN exam last year, and the core biopsy this year, leading to my diagnosis of breast cancer.
Thank you for all your help on my behalf – and all the women you’ve helped in this program!
Kim, (WCP Patient Navigator)
I want to say thank you for helping me through all my appointments. I am doing well and I am back to work… Thanks so much to you and the YWCA!
P.S. My daughter is expecting in September! That really helped in making my days better!
Heidi Kauffman is the Program Coordinator for the YWCA Women’s Cancer Program. She has a Masters in Theological Studies from Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis and has a BA in Woman’s Studies from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.