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Breast health caravan pulls into Beacon of H.O.P.E.

June 24, 2015
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

Tuesday, June 16, was a very busy day at the Beacon of H.O.P.E. Both Hearing Health of SW Florida and Partners for Breast Cancer Care Inc. were there to serve Pine Islanders.

"This is a project that was initiated by Partners for Breast Cancer Care to bring breast care to this community," Janet Darnell, executive director of Partners for Breast Cancer Care said. "We did our homework and we know that there are pockets of women in Lee County that just don't go to the doctor and one of those 'pockets' is Pine Island."

According to its website, the mission of Partners for Breast Cancer Care Inc. is to "save lives and reduce suffering from breast cancer through improved early detection, education and access to healthcare."

Article Photos

Those posing outside the “Mobile Mammo” unit include Clarissa Rivera (Hearing Health), Janet Darnell (Partners), Liz Bachoo-Garib (Family Health Center), Betsy Heasemeyer (Beacon), Rob Marrara (Family Health Center), Bob Sorenson (Literacy Council).


The Susan G. Komen Foundation of Southwest Florida performed a profile study of Lee County to determine where services were needed most. The results indicated that Dunbar, North Fort Myers, Lehigh and Pine Island had the highest need for services.

"Many don't go (to the doctor) because they don't have insurance or they may not have the finances or lots of other reasons," Darnell said. "By bringing these services to the community, we remove all of the reasons not to have a mammogram.

"That's what brings us and the 'Mobile Mammo' from the Radiology Regional Center to Pine Island," Darnell continued. "The 'Mobile Mammo' coach is a customized, mobile breast-imaging clinic, that brings the latest technology in digital mammography directly to the people."

Partners for Breast Cancer Care is collaborating with Lee Memorial Health System, Radiology Regional Center, Susan G. Komen of Southwest Florida, Family Health Centers, From Our Hearts here on Pine Island and several others to provide healthcare to low income and uninsured or underinsured people.

"They come in and visit with our bi-lingual case manager to go through the qualification process," Darnell said. "We estimate that there are 54,000 women in Lee County without health insurance. The case worker signs them up for our no-cost services. Then they see the doctor. Today, from Family Health Center, we have Nurse Practitioner Robert Marrero."

"I practice at Family Health Centers of Southwest Florida," Marrero said. "It is very important for women to have their breasts examined and very rewarding for me also. We're having a busy day, so far I've seen five or six women. It's vital that women have regular exams so they can detect cancer as early as possible."

She said she decided to become involved after a personal incident.

"The reason I got involved with Partners for Breast Cancer Care is because of something that happened to me when I was 44," Darnell said. "I remember it was October and I had never had a mammogram. I was a single mother with a cleaning business and no health insurance. At the time the TV and radio were bombarding us with the importance of mammograms and although I didn't think I had a problem, and had no family history of breast cancer, I decided to have one done. It costs me $50.

"Well, they found a micro-calcification the size of salt that they called 'suspicious.' I was called back to the doctors office and the doctor recommended a biopsy. I asked 'how much?' and he said, $4,000. I just told them I can't afford that. The mammo-tech walked me out and handed me a card from Partners for Breast Cancer Care. I contacted them and they paid for the biopsy. The results were that I had cancer. Partners for Breast Cancer Care paid for my lumpectomy and six weeks of radiation therapy. Partners for Breast Cancer Care saved my life and I thought I just have to give back."

She then went on to explain how the center helps.

"Once they see the doctor they go into a private setting with a breast health navigator from Regional Cancer Center," Darnell said. "Let's say the doctor detects a lump. They receive a package of information and go to the Mobile Mammo bus for a mammogram. We receive a report of the mammogram. If the person needs further care we set that up for them and it's funded through From Our Hearts. All of the funding for the people we see here today on Pine Island is funded by From Our Hearts."

Pine Island's From Our Hearts was started in 2001. Its mission is "to help in the fight to find a cure for the debilitating disease of breast cancer and help those that for one reason or another need a helping hand."

Today From Our Hearts Inc.'s only focus is to raise funds to provide breast cancer screening and treatment for any Pine Island resident who is in need of financial assistance. One hundred percent of the funds it raises is donated to Partners for Breast Cancer Care and Regional Cancer Center/Lee Memorial Health System to be used only for residents of the Greater Pine Island area. These two organizations facilitate the qualification process and distribution of From Our Hearts funds to provide screening and treatment for Pine Island residents.

"If someone needs further treatment after their mammogram, the doctor writes a prescription and sets up an appointment at no cost," Darnell said. "We've helped 160 people in this project and three have been diagnosed with breast cancer. And it all started with the screening mammogram.

"Today, at the Beacon of H.O.P.E., 13 women received screening mammograms," Darnell said. "Of those, nine qualified for our no-cost services and will be carefully followed for further testing, if needed.

"I tell my friends I am living the American dream, because I have been given the opportunity to learn as I work," Darnell said. "Partners is truly a grassroots organization with a very real passion to help as many women and men as we possibly can."

Hearing Health of Southwest Florida

"Since May 5, 2015, Hearing Health of SW Florida has been at the Beacon of H.O.P.E. the first and third Tuesday of each month," owner Charles Cameron said. "We are here from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The services will include free hearing tests."

Hearing Health is family owned and operated by Cameron. He is a board certified hearing/listening specialist and delivered two "hearing health" presentations to the O.W.L.S. at Pine Island United Methodist Church several months ago.

If you wish to use the services of Hearing Health of SW Florida, please call 471-7148 to schedule an appointment.

From Our Hearts always welcomes new members. It meets the third Tuesday of each month, at 6:30 p.m., in the Pine Island Fire House at the Island Center. For more information, call 239-233-7437 or email:



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