Everyone has been affected by cancer in some way or another. Whether it's personally or seeing a loved one fight the disease, it is unfortunately on everyone's radar.
That is why the South End Community Health Center is working tirelessly to provide affordable and quality care throughout the South End and surrounding communities.
With the help of a $75,000 grant from the New England Patriots Foundation in a partnership with the American Cancer Society, the community health center will be able to provide education, outreach, support and access to screenings in the area. At Crucial Catch Day on Tuesday, an emphasis was placed on early detection of cancer and a check was presented.
"This grant will help SECHC make cancer screening services affordable and accessible to those who might otherwise fall through the cracks of the health care system," said Bill Walczak, President and CEO of the South End Community Center in a press release.
The grant will help the SECHC provide the resources for breast cancer; it will also help the center educate the community on colorectal cancer, one of the deadliest forms of the disease.
"Breast cancer is critically important and we're making great strides. Being screened at the appropriate times in the appropriate ways can allow us to catch it earlier," said Mark Goldberg a member of the board of the American Cancer Society, New England Division. "If people are screened early we can avoid maybe 60 percent of colorectal cancers by catching it before it turns malignant and if we can catch it early, we can cure the vast majority of the cancers that are there."
To start their program off on the right foot, the SECHC held a Crucial Catch day where visitors could learn about different forms of cancer including breast, colorectal, mouth and throat, cervical, skin and how paying attention to nutrition can benefit them in the fight against the disease.
The importance of catching cancer early was shown when two women with ties to the health center spoke at the event on Tuesday. Rhonda Dickson who has worked for the health center for 40 years shared with the room how she beat five different forms of cancer and that catching it early was what contributed to her survival. Each time she felt something was wrong in her body, she relied on her self-examination, her intuition and her doctor's care to prevent the disease from getting worse.
Despite battling the disease so many times, Rhonda felt that after her experiences, her purpose was to encourage others to take their health into their hands.
"I've been through quite a few cancers, but I take a positive look at it," Rhonda said. "What am I supposed to learn from this? What I've learned is my job is to educate other people, to be their support."
Being able to provide support for those who need it is why the Patriots Foundation decided to partner with the American Cancer Society to provide this grant. For Josh Kraft, the foundation's president, finding a cure is the ultimate goal.
"Any time the Patriots and the Kraft family can be involved in the community and providing access to first class health care is so important and cancer screenings are so important because it truly is a crucial catch," Josh said. "Being able to do that through the team and the NFL to provide that funding to create this screening opportunity for people and more access to screenings is just a win, win all around."