The Avon Foundation for Women has donated a $150,000 grant to the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center at Baylor College of Medicine, which will offer funding and support for providing breast cancer treatment and prevention, as well as to assist patients in managing their disease care at Harris Health System’s Ben Taub Hospital and Smith Clinic.
The funds from the Avon Foundation support a BCM-launched program called Pink 4 Life, which Baylor physicians began 10 years ago at Ben Taub in an effort to address and improve treatment and screening resources for breast cancer. Ben Taub Hospital and Smith Clinic are well-positioned healthcare centers for the program, since they serve those who are underinsured and uninsured in Houston.
“In 2005, we were seeing too many women diagnosed with advanced cases of the disease, unnecessarily reducing their chance of survival because they did not receive medical attention earlier,” said Dr. Mothaffar Rimawi, medical director of the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center at the Smith Clinic and the Baylor Clinic in a press release. “The important support of foundations such as the Avon Foundation has helped us dramatically improve care for breast cancer by detecting it at an earlier stage, offering a better chance for survival and more options for treatments.”
The new grant from Avon is designed to enable Baylor to further ramp up its efforts as part of Pink 4 Life, focusing specifically on prevention of the disease, as well as bolstering Harris Health System’s patient navigation resources. Patient navigators at Harris play a critically important role in helping breast cancer patients remain n-track and compliant with their treatment process, which at times can be both complex and daunting.
BCM’s grant was one of ten critically important grants issued by the Avon Foundation, which were highlighted at the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, that was held in Houston, Texas on April 13th. The walk has become a successful annual fundraising event for breast cancer, wherein thousands of those affected by breast cancer in one form or another walk 39 miles in the course of two days in order to raise money for breast cancer research and prevention. The 2014 Houston walk proved very successful in fundraising, having collected more than $2 million in new funding from the effort.
BCM played a major role in the walk this year, serving as the fundraiser’s official medical sponsor — a role they have played for seven years now. Dr. Polly Niravath, an assistant professor at BCM’s Smith Breast Center, was appointed as this year’s medical director for the event. Niravath, along with her team of healthcare volunteers, worked as medical caregivers for all of the walkers during the course of the two-day event.
”Each year, I am so inspired by the survivors, family members, and caretakers who walk and volunteer. Their stories of strength, courage, and resilience are truly humbling, and I cannot think of a more worthy cause to bring all these remarkable people together on one incredible weekend. The $2 million raised this weekend will go to support underserved breast cancer patients who may not have been able to access health care resources otherwise,” said Niravath, also director of the Breast Cancer Survivorship clinic at the Smith Clinic.
The Avon Foundation for Women began in 1955 with the fundamental mission of the promote or aid charitable, scientific, educational, and humanitarian activities that improve the lives of women and their families. The Foundation’s current mission focus is to lead efforts to eradicate breast cancer and end domestic and gender violence.