Why I Race- By Jenny Peterson

Komen Austin has provided valuable funding to Breast Cancer Resource Centers (BCRC) for nearly 15 years. Initially, Komen funding allowed our organization to hire our first bi-lingual patient navigator and extend our services into the Latina community. Funding from Komen Austin currently allows BCRC to provide important cancer screening services – free of charge – to uninsured women. In support of a valuable ally in our efforts to improve the lives of those facing breast cancer, BCRC is recruiting a team to participate in this year’s Race for the Cure.

I’d just gotten engaged to my longtime boyfriend and had moved in with him when I started going through the diagnostic process for breast cancer. My mother had died of the disease when I was 26, and the diagnostic process itself is no picnic, so April and May of 2012 were not looking too promising. And on top of everything, I was self-employed and had no health insurance – so when the patient navigator at Austin Radiological told me that I needed 5 biopsies totaling $15,000, I was speechless. We laugh about it now, but at the time, the only thing I could think of to say was, “Well, I guess I need to talk with the business manager and get on a payment plan.”

And the navigator replied, “I have some contacts at Komen – let me give them a call and see what we can do.” So the next day, I was at a job site (I’m a landscIMG_2307aper) and I received a call from the Komen office. “Ms. Peterson, I just wanted to let you know that we will be helping you with your biopsies.”

“Wow, really? Thank you so much!” I said, “So how much will I be responsible for?” (Never for a minute thinking I wouldn’t have to pay anything.)

“Oh, no ma’am,” she said, “We are taking care of all of it. It’s what we do, what we’re here for.”

I was so stunned that for a moment I didn’t say anything, and then I burst into tears. With that one phone call, what was easily one of the most stressful times in my life was made less stressful and burdensome, and I never feel as though I have adequate enough words to say a proper “thank you.”

If I didn’t have the assistance that our Austin Komen affiliate gave to me during that time, I would have had no choice but to put off the biopsies while I figured out the financing. And putting off biopsies means putting off the diagnosis and subsequent treatment – a decision that could have easily turned my Stage 2 breast cancer into a Stage 4 lifetime of treatment.

I wish I could remember the names of the navigators from both Komen and the Breast Cancer Resource Center who helped me through this whole process – I was so shocked that some of those details were not remembered. But I will have a lifetime of expressing my profound gratitude in any way I can for these two groups that provided not only financial assistance but emotional support and guidance through a very dark and difficult time in my life. And most importantly, they gave me hope that I was not alone in dealing with a devastating disease like breast cancer — so with every dollar donated or raised through events like Race for the Cure, another woman like me is helped and given hope. Thank you, BCRC and Komen, for being advocates for women’s health and for never, ever leaving us alone.IMG_2418

Join Team BCRC this November!

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