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News >  Idaho

Uninsured women to benefit from grants for cancer awareness

Dave Buford Correspondent

A breast-cancer awareness group in Coeur d’Alene will be granting $65,000 to help uninsured women in North Idaho determine their risk.

The Coeur d’Alene affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which organizes Race for the Cure, will grant the funds to government or nonprofit agencies in the five northern counties to underwrite screening, treatment, education and prevention programs. In addition, small grants will be available for nurses’ training.

Marcy Horner, grant chair for the Coeur d’Alene affiliate, lost her mother 10 years ago to breast cancer. She’s been with the group since it started five years ago and said six tumors have been detected through the program.

“It’s one of those good-news bad-news situations,” she said.

The Coeur d’Alene Susan G. Komen affiliate has been holding a Race for the Cure for five years. Last year, the group led about 2,500 runners on a race around Lake Coeur d’Alene. The group raises about $100,000 through the race each year and one-quarter of the proceeds goes to research. The rest stays in North Idaho.

The group focused on providing screens during its first years, and this year it will start offering smaller grants to help educate young women.

Horner said early detection is a main focus for the foundation. It underwrites mammograms, then follows up with diagnostics if a mammogram detects something that looks suspicious. Diagnostics cost about $165 and treatment can cost between $30,000 and $50,000, depending on where and how far along the disease has progressed.

“It’s more than most of us have in the bank,” Horner said.

Raeleen Dorr of Coeur d’Alene was able to take advantage of the grants through Panhandle Health. During her annual checkup this year, she was told about the program and qualified for a free exam. The results came back negative for breast cancer.

“It was a big burden off of my mind,” she said.

Without the free screening, Dorr said she would’ve been forced to wait for about three years until she finished classes at North Idaho College or until she could find a nursing job.

She kept putting off a mammogram and never thought twice that she or any of her friends would be diagnosed with breast cancer. But after meeting a few friends who survived breast cancer or who were recently diagnosed with the disease, she decided it was time to have herself checked.

“I decided it’s not going to do me much good to go to school if I’m not going to be here for my kids,” she said.

Now, she’s an advocate of early detection.

Mary Lou Piazza, the group’s volunteer chairperson, survived breast cancer after being diagnosed 21 years ago and after a recurrence 12 years ago. Now, she spends her time staying active through volunteer work and helps the Kootenai County affiliate build on its 200-volunteer base.

“It’s just a way of putting something back into your community and helping others that are faced with the same disease,” she said.

As the affiliate grows, members are looking for new ways to raise money and add services, including the ability to cover treatment costs. A golf tournament will be held this summer and Horner hopes to boost participation in the foot race to 10,000.

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