NJ 211 and Komen Affiliate Renew Partnership that Makes Mammograms More Accessible to a Population at Risk

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African American women are 32% more likely to die of breast cancer due to lack of early detection of the disease. The partnership between NJ 211and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Central and South Jersey Affiliate is determined to change that statistic. NJ residents are urged to call NJ 211 to learn more about community resources for early detection and find out if they are eligible for free mammograms.

The astounding truth is that African American women are 32% more likely to die of breast cancer than their Caucasian counterparts; yet African-American women who have regular mammograms have the same chances of surviving breast cancer as all other groups of women. This reality is what motivated the creation of Reach Out for Life: Somebody Needs You™, a program that is spearheaded by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Central and South Jersey Affiliate and facilitated by NJ 211, the statewide information and referral service that puts people-in-need, in touch with those who can offer assistance.

Ruth Lee, a fifty-three year old resident of Cherry Hill, NJ is a cancer survivor thanks to the partnership. "I was on my way home from the Preakness one day and was listening to the radio and heard this commercial about NJ 211 and the Komen partnership. Earlier that same afternoon, I had noticed a small lump in my right breast. I didn't think much of it at the time, but a few days passed and the lump seemed to be getting bigger so I decided to call 2-1-1 to learn more," she explains. That phone call could very well be what saved Ruth's life.

When she called 2-1-1, Ruth spoke with a care manager who told her all about the importance of getting a yearly mammogram and even gave her information on local sites that performed the screening. "I didn't want to go," she admits. "I had never had a mammogram and I guess I was scared, but the woman from 2-1-1 was so nice and encouraging that I decided to go ahead with it." Ruth's mammogram led to a biopsy which confirmed that the lump was cancerous. "I was in a total state of denial," Ruth says. "I walked around for about 4 weeks before I took the next step. All the while, the Komen ladies were so nice. They kept talking to me about the different kinds of treatments there were and they encouraged me to do what I finally did…get the chemotherapy I needed. I don't know what I would have done without them. They feel like family to me now."

The partnership between NJ 211 and the Komen Central and South Jersey Affiliate was designed to make it easy for women like Ruth who have never had a mammogram to consider getting one. When women call 2-1-1 about the program they speak with a care manager who discusses the importance of yearly mammograms and offers information about where mammograms are given in the caller's community. If it is determined that the caller meets income guidelines, the care manager goes even further by helping the caller set up an appointment for the test and providing follow-up services including a phone call to discuss test results and further treatment options if cancer is detected.

Reach Out for Life™ is a campaign that is intended to heighten awareness of the importance of yearly mammograms in the detection of cancer when it is in the earliest stages and far more curable. With 2-1-1 as its partner, the Komen Central and South Jersey Affiliate is creating a natural network of caring messengers who will offer the support needed to encourage African-American women to keep their resolutions for good health this year. Our message is clear, says Nancy Healey, executive director of the Central and South Jersey Affiliate. "If you are a woman over 40, regardless of whether or not you have any symptoms, you should be getting a yearly mammogram. It could save your life."

About NJ 211:
NJ 211 is a statewide information and referral network designed to connect people in need with government, social services and community resources that provide assistance. This free, confidential service is supported by United Way in partnership with the State of New Jersey - Department of Human Services and the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. http://www.nj211.org

About the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Central & South Jersey Affiliate:
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Central & South Jersey Affiliate is committed to reducing late stage diagnoses of breast cancer through aggressive education and screening initiatives. The Susan G. Komen for the Cure promise is to save lives and end breast cancer forever by empowering people, ensuring quality care for all, and energizing science to find the cures. http://www.reachout4life.org

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Gina Plotino
NJ 211
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