PROMISES TO KEEP
By Shannon Donnelly Daily News Staff Writer
Know what rattles the usually poised Nancy Brinker’s cage?
Learning that Florida ranks last among the 50 states in funding women’s health care.
Last. Lower than Mississippi, West Virginia and Kentucky.
“I saw those figures and I was shocked,” said the longtime warrior in the battle against breast cancer, “and I realized that if the state won’t step up, then we’ll have to start with the community.”
That, and the fact that so much of the money raised in Palm Beach for charity “crosses the bridge, gets on a plane and flies off somewhere, leaving absolutely nothing behind. Women of diversity are dying of breast and cervical cancer at an alarming rate, and they are dying right here in South Florida.” The Promise Fund of Florida was born.
The donor – advised fund, housed at the Community Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin Counties, aims to eliminate the financial and cultural barriers to health care access for underserved women, most of whom are minority and poor.
The model employs a partnership between community ‘navigators’ and existing health care providers, such as Morse Life and Susan G. Komen, who train those navigators in the intricacies of accessing every available medical resource.
“People think we’re competing with Komen; we’re not,” said Brinker, the founder of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. “As a matter of fact, they are one of our beneficiaries of funding to teach health care navigators. One is already trained and out there working,” Brinker said.
Because the navigators will live in the communities they serve, cultural, religious and social norms are respected. The navigator becomes the breast cancer or cervical cancer patient’s partner in fighting the disease. “The navigator walks with her through the entire journey,” Brinker said, rendering one-on-one assistance from screening, diagnosis, treatment and completion of care.
Evidence seems to bolster the cause: Research shows that navigation patients have significantly better health outcomes and survival rates.
“Our goal is to reduce early deaths from breast and cervical cancer,” Brinker said. “We think this is a way to do it.”
The fund’s events for the 2018-19 season include the Pink Tie Guy reception on Dec. 20 at Club Colette; the pink-lighting of the middle bridge on Jan. 4; a VIP donors reception at Brinker’s home on Jan. 11; the Perfect Pink Party on Jan. 12; and the Scientific Luncheon on March 3 at the Palm Beach Country Club.
Sherry Endelson and Paulette Koch are chairwomen of the Perfect Pink Party. David Brodsky is chairman.
All proceeds will remain in South Florida.