When Nancy G. Brinker first founded Susan G. Komen, breast health was a taboo topic, but one that she knew had to be approached to save the lives of women. Her sister’s death had solidified her resolve in helping women to survive.
Fast forward to today, Brinker has founded The Promise Fund. The organization aims to close gaps in access to healthcare and help those in need by removing barriers for women of all backgrounds, and offering a host of resources.
"We have about 80,000 women in count, in our county, who do not have regular screening and do not have a medical home and they need our help. And so it seemed best to find healthcare that isn't for profit," Brinker said.
The Promise Fund of Florida just took its latest step toward opening the Promise Fund Mammography Screening Center at FoundCare in West Palm Beach. A new 3D mammography machine donated by Hologic Inc. will be unveiled Oct. 26, helping an estimated 1,000 women in its first year.
"This is a 3D picture of breast and breast tissue which is very, very predictive and very accurate and so if we see a lump, a thickening, something that a woman should be notified about, we can decide how we progress into diagnosis and care," Brinker said.
Brinker said the ultimate goal is a continuum of care for the women who need it, drumming up a systemic change in the healthcare of women.
"We believe if we're able to deliver this kind of testing to women in our county, we can reduce late-stage deaths dramatically," Brinker said. "Because that's really what happens to them. Their disease is discovered so late that it's too late."
The machine is available to all women in the county, regardless of their financial status. Anyone can call 1-877-4-A-PROMISE to connect with a navigator.
"There is no reason why today in America with the amount of research that we have, the knowledge we have about how to treat early breast and cervical cancer that it is not applied to our entire population, except our will. And I believe personally that communities solve these problems better than anyone," Brinker said.
Reducing deaths from late stage breast cancer and cervical cancer starts with early detection, diagnosis and treatment. While many women put off exams due to lack of insurance, fear, or challenges due to the pandemic, Brinker encourages everyone to find the time and connect with those who can help. Diagnosing cancer earlier can add precious days to the life of a patient.
"I had breast cancer many years ago," Brinker said. "My sister died of it at a very young age. And I know too well what the barriers are, even for people who have the best medical care. So what we want to provide is the same kind of environment, the same opportunities, for women who have no care and to know they will be cared for, to know they'll be a nurturing quality about what we're doing."