Nonprofit Works To Be ‘The Light’ For Breast Cancer Patients

June 3, 2010

The Rose, a nonprofit breast cancer organization in Bellaire, is literally making a difference in the lives of women by helping them identify breast cancer in its early stages, leading to prompt treatment and eventual full recovery.

Last year, the center diagnosed 335 women with breast cancer. Of those women, 105 were in their 40s and 37 were under 40. Their youngest cancer patient was diagnosed at age 19.

The 24-year-old nonprofit organization has made it their mission to reduce deaths from breast cancer by providing screening, diagnostics and access to treatment for all women regardless of their ability to pay.

The Rose provides services at no charge to working poor, low-income, uninsured women. By serving those who have the ability to pay, they are able to offset the costs of those who cannot.

“We provide a way that women who have insurance can help those who don’t,” said The Rose CEO Dorothy Gibbons.

Gibbons and Dr. Dixie Melillo, a local surgeon, founded The Rose in 1986 because they saw women who were working poor or had no insurance, procrastinating about seeing a doctor because they couldn’t afford care.

“Women were falling through the cracks,” she said. “We were seeing women walking in with stage three and stage four breast cancers.”

Gibbons said some patients don’t go in for a screening because they don’t have insurance, they don’t have the money and they don’t know where to go.

“Everyone’s in the dark about medical stuff. Sometimes we don’t know what’s going on and we put it off,” she said.

Gibbons said every woman has the right to the utmost care.

“If we aren’t going to be the voice for women who don’t have a voice then what are we doing?” she said.

The Rose opened with their first location in Houston at 12700 North Featherwood, Suite 260. In February they opened a second location at 5420 West Loop South, Suite 3300 in Bellaire.

They provide basic screening services including: mammograms, clinical breast exams and breast ultrasound diagnostics, among other things.  They also provide a mobile mammography outreach program and a young women’s clinic for those under age 34.

Last year, The Rose provided screening to 15,680 low-income, uninsured women at no charge.

Some of the social services they provide for women and men without insurance include: community outreach/education, a patient navigation program and a physician network program.

The Rose assigns a patient navigator to their patients who don’t have insurance. The patient navigator helps the patient through the entire process of diagnosis, physician referral and treatment. They also help with paperwork, translation and post surgical needs, among other things.

Patients get so close with their navigator that they can depend on them for answers and don’t have to wait for an answer from a physician, said Maggie Phillips, communications manager for The Rose.

The Rose has about 500 physician network members who donate service for at least one low-income and uninsured patient a year. The donated breast cancer treatment services come from a variety of community-based hospitals, radiation therapy centers, oncology centers and other healthcare agencies.

Patients typically receive treatment within four weeks of diagnosis through the physician network program.

The Rose also has a mobile mammography outreach program that reaches women through multiple mobile screening sites throughout Houston and surrounding areas. The mobile mammography program has served 5,926 women in Harris County as well as eight surrounding counties. For mobile screening information call 281-464-5136.

The Rose was recently awarded the Winner of Distinction Award for Excellence presented by the Greater Houston and South Texas chapter of the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

“If you’re walking around with something in your breast, we need to find out,” Gibbons said. “What we represent most is that hope for women. For those women, we are the light.”

Appointments at The Rose are available Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and some evenings and Saturdays.

For more information visit their website at www.therose.org.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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