Kentucky voices: Local Komen group breaking down barriers to fight breast cancer

Many of you may be aware of the controversy concerning Susan G. Komen and its funding over the last year. As executive director of our local Komen Lexington affiliate, I would like to share how Komen Lexington uses the funds that are raised here.

At Komen Lexington, we keep 75 percent of our net funds to invest into community programs for our 58-county service region that provide screenings, treatment, education and support services for breast health. We also provide 25 percent of our raised funds to invest into groundbreaking research.

Our parent group, Komen Global in Dallas, Tx., provides funding for research grants focused on finding a cure, while individual affiliates are responsible for granting to local community programs based on local needs.

At Komen Lexington, we have not funded Planned Parenthood in any way. Planned Parenthood, like any local potential grantee, can apply for a grant provided it follows our guidelines for local programs based on screenings, treatment, education or patient support services.

Since the inception of the Lexington affiliate, it has not taken the opportunity to apply for a grant. If it were to write for one, it would be reviewed fairly like any other potential grantee.

The decision on whether to fund would be based on the need that it would fulfill in our community. The gracious donations of our faithful local supporters are invested into programs that will make the most impact in our area.

All grants are reviewed by an impartial committee of volunteers from the community that know the need and mission of Komen Lexington and are in no way affiliated with any grantees, the board or the staff of Komen Lexington.

In 2012, we granted over $360,000 to 12 organizations. Five of these grantees are Catholic or faith-based organizations and can be found on our Web site komenlexington.org. These grants are to be used for anyone in need in the community who would qualify for each individual program, regardless of race, gender, religious affiliation, political views or any other protected group in our community.

We are here to help break down barriers, not create more. Ultimately, our mission is to raise funds in order to provide a program that would cover the individual needs in our 58-county service area.

That's why the Race for the Cure, coming up Saturday, Oct. 6 at CentrePointe in downtown Lexington, is so important. Our funds last year raised through the race provided thousands of people in our community with mammograms that would not have happened if Komen dollars were not available.

I met a woman at a health fair a few weeks ago who, at age 62, had never had a mammogram. She had lived most of her adult life without any form of health care coverage.

We were able to sign her up for a free screening and by the time she left the table she was overwhelmed with emotion. She said she was unaware this service was available to her. This is just one of many experiences where we are again certain that our work is not done; we have so many more people to reach.

A few days ago, I had a 22-year-old college student call the office. She was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer and didn't have insurance. We have been able to allow her to focus on getting better by negotiating her bills and letting Komen funding take care of the financial burden through one of our local grantees.

These efforts are possible due to the generosity of our community sponsors and supporters.

I ask you to stick with me; to learn and seek answers, to help us find cures for breast cancer that affect the men and women in our community. We at Komen Lexington can't do it alone, but it will be done as we unite and continue to walk with a mission, and show the power of the PINK.

For more information on Race for the Cure: Call 859-368-7133 or Komenlexington.org.