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Fighting cancer individually, and together

Webster defines community as: noun, an interacting population of various kinds of individuals.

In Hood River the word community is a verb. Mother Theresa once said, “We can do no great things; only small things with great love.”

Since 2009 the community of Hood River has rallied together one individual, one dollar at a time to fund the Providence Hood River Memorial Foundation Julie Beliel Cancer Screening Voucher Program.

Since its inception this program has provided necessary screenings, follow-up and in some cases biopsies to women in need in the community who were under-insured or uninsured, all with a concern that they were at risk for breast cancer and uncertain of how they would access screening services. Breast cancer prevention is a true local effort.

It is with a grateful heart that I say Thank You to the community of Hood River for stepping up to the plate to make a difference by funding this program for women in this community who have needed these services.

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Over the past five years individuals in the community have unselfishly provided funding, through small and large donations, for more than 350 mammograms, and other related treatment services for women in our community.

This was a program born of a hope and optimism, not of hopelessness; a program designed to eliminate the barriers to screening for women in our community with too little, or no insurance to cover.

In addition to screening, the program provides education and outreach services focused on the importance of screening to health providers and patients.

Modern methods of detection and screenings for the majority of cancers are simple. These important screenings equip the patient, physician and clinicians to make treatment decisions, improve the tools of therapy and allow research to continue to gather data in hopes of improved treatment and, someday, a cure.

According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer alone kills some 458,000 people each year. It has to be a priority to ensure that more women can access screening. Early detection translates to better chances for successful treatment.

Statistically, 80 percent of lumps found during mammography turn out to not be cancer. But for those remaining 20 percent, the news is not all bad. Survival rates for women diagnosed early with localized breast cancer have reached nearly 99 percent.

My personal hope comes with the potential for a cure in our lifetime. Each of us in this community has an opportunity to fight back. Individually, we can take personal steps for a healthy lifestyle, through regular exercise, healthy eating and lifestyle choices; choosing and accessing a “health care home” (a personal physician, clinic or the health department that cares for you and monitors your health history) and following up with annual exams and recommendations for cancer screenings.

Early detection translates to better chances for successful treatment.

Together, we can participate in and support the Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital Foundation and other national and community resources providing services to cancer survivors and their caregivers.

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My passion is to see our community remove the barriers to cancer screening, through providing education and outreach services focused on the importance of screening to physicians, clinicians and patients. Often, for many of us, the barrier for these screenings are financial as many services may not be covered by our major medical or catastrophic health insurance plans, or we may not have access to health insurance.

Cancer doesn’t discriminate, and this program delivers services to any woman without the means to access screening. Statistics from the Center for Disease Control indicate on average in our lifetime that four out of 10 of us will have an incident of cancer.

There are many things in life we cannot control or influence; each of us, however, has an opportunity to influence and improve the survival rates of cancer through funding research, education, outreach and early screening.

We do not accomplish anything in the world alone; I would not be here today if it weren’t for the amazing communities of friends, family, physicians, clinicians and caregivers who have unselfishly given to me in a million little ways.

We can do no great things; only small things with great love. If each household in the communities of this area donated $5, this program will continue to be funded to deliver much-needed access to services for all women with a need.

It is with a grateful heart that I am blessed by so many in the community that have supported me directly in my journey in the world of cancer, and those that have supported my passion to provide access to breast cancer screening to all women in the community regardless of financial status through the work of the Providence Hood River Memorial Foundation Julie Beliel Cancer Screening Voucher program.

Thank you to each of you for your contributions, courage, compassion and willingness to make a difference in my life and the lives of others.

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To make a donation contact the PHRMH Foundation at 541-387-6950 or P.O. Box 149, Hood River, OR 97031, or through online giving at: http://bit.ly/14qamYL.

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