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Cancer Society, Boeheim Foundation join forces to increase cancer screening and save lives

Cancer Society, Boeheim Foundation join forces to increase cancer screening and save lives

SYRACUSE, N.Y.-- Thanks to a $75,000 grant from the American Cancer Society, Upstate Cancer Center is able to expand and enhance two programs aimed at addressing breast and colorectal cancer disparities in Central New York through its She Matters and We Matters programs.

Since the grant went into effect on Jan. 1, more than 400 men and women have received education with 70 screened to reduce their risk of developing these cancers or to find the cancer early. The grant was made possible through a generous donation from the Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation, secured thanks to the efforts of Jim and Peggy Carrick. The grant was established through the Upstate Foundation.

“Eliminating disparities and reducing the burden of cancer among different segments of the population is an overarching goal of the American Cancer Society,” said Martha Ryan with the American Cancer Society. “Racial and ethnic disparities in the cancer burden largely reflect obstacles to receiving health care services related to cancer prevention, early detection and high quality treatment with poverty as the largest contributing factor. With these programs and partnering with Upstate Cancer Center, a state-of-the-art facility, we will address the disparity right here in our community.”

Upstate Medical University is a strong partner with both the Boeheim Foundation and the American Cancer Society, and is the safety net provider in Central New York for diverse and underserved populations. Both the She Matters and the We Matter programs use a patient navigation model that offers support through the cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment phases resulting in more individuals being screened in a timely manner and if diagnosed, receiving timely treatment, thus increasing survival and quality of life.

“Thanks to this grant, we have expanded the successful Resident Health Advocate (RHA) screening program in select Syracuse Public Housing complexes,” said Dr. Leslie Kohman, MD, director of outreach for the Upstate Cancer Center. “RHAs are individuals who live in these communities and know their neighbors, they share education about the importance of good nutrition, regular exercise and the importance of cancer screening. Because the RHAs are from the community, a trust factor is established and they become the vital link between the residents and the health care system, assisting the residents in navigating to receive the appropriate health screening and the follow up if necessary.”

She Matters implemented the model to raise breast cancer awareness and increase screening mammography among low income, primarily African American and Latino women residing in Syracuse Housing Authority communities, including Pioneer Homes, Toomey Abbott, and Almus Olver Towers and now James Geddes--all located in the City of Syracuse.  We Matter addresses colon cancer education and screening options in the same communities.

The funds will also allow We Matter to expand to include lung cancer screening for those eligible (55-77 years of age and either current or former smokers.) Since smoking rates are generally higher in low income populations, chest CT scanning is a critical tool to provide early diagnosis in this vulnerable population, who often present with a late stage diagnosis of lung cancer due to smoking.

“The mission of our foundation is to provide support for eliminating cancer through research and advocacy,” said Juli Boeheim. “By collaborating with the American Cancer Society and their focus on reaching disparate populations and partnering with the programs of the Upstate Cancer Center, we are making use of the donated funds from our community supporters and touching the lives of individuals in some of the poorest neighborhoods of our county to encourage them to live healthier and get screened for specific cancers. We are so pleased to be part of this important project.”

“As a member of the Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation Board, I know firsthand the impact that donated dollars have in supporting the national initiatives of the American Cancer Society, which have a direct impact here in CNY by providing programs offered by Upstate Cancer Center so that diverse communities have resources and support to decrease the burden of cancer,” said Peggy Carrick.

“This generous grant from the Boeheim Foundation has allowed us to expand and offer cancer education and screenings to those who traditionally have not had either the opportunity or the access to either,” said Linda Veit, director of the programs at Upstate Cancer Center. “Our future goal is to make these programs available to all the underserved neighborhoods in Onondaga County where disproportionate rates of cancer screening exist.”

Caption: Upstate officials join with Jim and Juli Boeheim, Jim and Peggy Carrick, American Cancer Society officials and resident health advisors from Pioneer Homes to celebrate a $75,000 grant that will expand and enhance breast and colon cancer community screening programs.