In our community, we see African American women experiencing the highest increasing trend of breast cancer incidence and late-stage female breast cancer rates. Though together Komen Austin’s community partners provide comprehensive breast health services, we still see these local breast cancer disparities. Because of this, breast health education and awareness is imperative. As we know, breast cancer screening is crucial even when a woman is presenting no symptoms; breast health education and awareness in the first step. Komen Austin’s Director of Mission Services, Eliza May, is leading the path of breast health outreach for education and awareness in our community’s public schools. Read on to learn how May’s efforts are helping to target and enhance breast healthcare in our community.
Eliza May, Director of Mission Services
As the Director of Mission Services, Eliza May handles grant administration and management, with her team is conducting the 2015 community profile, and sees to legislative and congressional communication and advocacy for breast health. In May’s education and outreach advocacy efforts, she established collaborative breast health outreach with the AISD public schools.
May’s past work experience with underserved communities led her to select the AISD public schools as the best fit target area for breast health outreach for education and awareness promotion. Specifically in minority and underserved communities, public schools are a captured environment for minority women who are often at higher risk for the disease due to race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic barriers; it is prominent that these communities encompass women who need to be recruited into the breast health continuum of care, said May.
In Our Public Schools for Outreach
Minority and underserved communities face many socioeconomic barriers that hinder their access to and utilization of breast health services such as being underinsured or uninsured and being linguistically isolated where a large populous of a community may be mono-lingual, non-English speaking, said May. When breast health outreach for education and awareness is brought to the public schools’ captured environment of young mothers, usually ages 30-45, who are of a minority race or ethnicity, and who experience multiple barriers to the breast health continuum of care, new doors are opened for breast cancer prevention and detection for these young women in our community.
AISD public schools that Komen Austin has collaborated with since January of 2013:
- Burnet Middle School
- Cunningham Elementary School
- Dove Springs Community School-Alliance
- Govalle Elementary School
- LBJ High School
- Martin Middle School
- Oak Hill Elementary School
- Oden Elementary School
- Ortega Elementary School
- Raegan High school
Most recently May conducted outreach on behalf of Komen Austin at the Mendez Middle School health and wellness fair, where our newest community partner CommUnity Care was also in attendance!
Mendez Middle School is located in the community which was affected by the 2013 Halloween flood. For this reason, it was essential to be sure that these women who lost many of the few resources they had due to last year’s peril, and who were then experiencing additional barriers affecting many aspects of their life, were aware of the urgency of breast cancer screening. No matter what the barriers they were experiencing, it was crucial to educate this community on the necessity of being screened for breast cancer, allowing them to be aware of their risk factors, and informing them that no matter the barriers they were facing, Komen Austin has community partners to provide the breast health services they were in need of.
At this event May was presented with an appreciation medal by Lanor Fargar, the director of family resource centers for the school, for her work with the public schools in our community (see picture).
Enhancing Breast Health in Our Community
Hispanic/Latina women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at advanced stages and African American women have the highest breast cancer mortality rate; different races and ethnicities can be affected by breast cancer in different ways and can experience disproportionate impact of the disease. Reaching out to the minority and underserved areas of our community with breast health education and awareness is imperative.
It is critical for all women in our community to be aware of their breast health and racial and ethnic related risk factors which may pertain to them regardless of whatever barriers they may face. Barriers can lead to women experiencing inadequate access of and utilization to breast health services. This mission of breast cancer prevention and early detection is enhanced when Komen Austin reaches the captured environments of women who otherwise would not know they could or believe they should be screened for this disease.
Outreach in our public schools is strengthening multicultural breast health awareness to aid in bridging the breast cancer disparities in our community.