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State funding aids early detection In December of 1989 Elizabeth Cassady’s mother Roberta informed her “We realize that it’s unrealistic to expect the BCCP to family that she had been diagnosed receive more funding during these tough economic with breast cancer. Elizabeth recalls her concern for her mother was times. When the current budget problems are resolved overwhelming. So was the concern for and the state can dedicate more resources toward her own health as she knew she may be prevention, we will continue to show the cost benefits at a higher risk of breast cancer than the average woman. of early screening versus treatment and ask that Elizabeth also understood, through funding be increased.” her mother’s own battle, that if detected early the survival rate is very good. She — KATIE CARTER determined her best chance to fight the KOMEN COLUMBUS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR disease, if ever she were diagnosed, would be to catch it early through years-old and her insurance didn’t write an appeal letter to her insurance regular screenings. cover mammograms for women under company informing them of her mothUnfortunately at the time of her the age of 40. So every year she would er’s diagnosis and her higher risk. mother’s diagnosis Elizabeth was 25-

“Every year before my screening, I would simply change the date on the appeal letter I sent the year before as I expected the insurance company would deny payment for my mammogram,” Elizabeth said. For Elizabeth, her annual encounter with the red tape was worthwhile as the screenings gave her knowledge and peace of mind. A couple years ago Elizabeth began working contract jobs and found herself unable to afford health insurance or the cost of screenings — yet her income was too high to be eligible for the state’s Medicaid program. Even more frightening, the team at the Columbus Cancer Clinic detected a mass in her left breast during her annual mammogram.

Needing a second screening and an ultrasound, the Cancer Clinic informed Elizabeth that she would be eligible for assistance through the state’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Project (BCCP). Administered by the Ohio Department of Health through funding by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state budget appropriations, the BCCP provides mammograms, diagnostic testing and case management services to low-income women in Ohio who don’t have insurance coverage and fall in the eligibility gap for the state’s Medicaid system. Last year, the Ohio BCCP screened See STATE, on next page

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May 8, 2011

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Regina Brett to speak at post-race event On May 14, downtown Columbus will be transformed into a sea of pink as thousands gather to participate in the annual Susan G. Komen Columbus Race for the Cure. Within the crowd of pink-clad people—there were more than 50,000 participants in 2010—certain individuals stand out because they are just a little bit pinker than all the rest. Hundreds of breast cancer survivors, marked by their solid pink t-shirts, will run and walk the 5K race course this year—accompanied by family, friends and the Central Ohio community. After the race, all survivors will be invited to participate in the Sur-

vivor Ceremony & Celebration, an empowering, inspirational event that will start at 10:45 a.m. on the west steps of the Ohio Statehouse. The keynote speaker for this year’s celebration knows all too well what it means to be a breast cancer survivor. Regina Brett has been cancer-free for 14 years. She has sisters and cousins who have lost their lives to the disease. Her daughter found out in 2007 that she, like Brett, carried the BRCA1 gene, which can cause breast cancer, and chose to have her breasts surgically removed. Brett is a well-known and respected columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and a Pulitzer Prize finalist twice for pieces she

wrote for the newspaper. She is also the author of God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life’s Little Detours, an inspirational collection of essays, and she hosts a weekly call-in radio show on Northeast Ohio’s NPR affiliate station. At the Columbus survivor ceremony, Brett will celebrate breast cancer survivorship surrounded by fellow survivors and those closest to them—in addition to thousands of other Ohioans. As each survivor crosses the finish line, they will receive a pink rose and be asked to proceed to Survivor Palooza, a special tented area designated for survivors, to prepare to be honored at the

ceremony. During the event, they will parade across the Statehouse lawn in order of length of survivorship—from those undergoing treatment to those who have been cancer-free for decades— and assemble on the steps of the Statehouse to be recognized. The celebration won’t be without music. The Hot Pink Racers, a local band that combines punk rock and pink, will get the crowd moving. The band was organized exclusively for the Columbus Race for the Cure by Joe Cygan, the widower of Heather Pick, a Columbus television news anchor who lost her fight with breast cancer in 2008. Rebekah Smith, a talented young Columbus singer,

will also perform with accompianist Scott Solchert. Awards will be given to survivors and top runners. All are welcome on the State-

house lawn after the race this year to join in this amazing celebration of survivorship—and be part of finding a cure to end breast cancer forever.


STATE FUNDING AIDS EARLY DETECTION Elizabeth Cassady pictured with her mother Roberta, used the BCCP program to pay for mammograms, when she did not qualify for Medicaid.

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our own self-evaluations and screenings. It’s about saving lives.� In October, Elizabeth accepted the job as the Canteen Manager at the VFW Post 4044 in Columbus. While she has never participated in the Susan G. Komen Columbus Race for the Cure, she was given the responsiPhoto courtesy of Komen Columbus bility to coordinate the Post’s 2011 team – a task Elizabeth would be fine. It was through the $250,000. The women who says has special meaning. qualify but don’t receive screen- assistance from the BCCP that Coincidently Elizabeth’s ings often show up later at hospi- she got the additional screenings friends and family will also be she and her doctors needed to tal emergency rooms with canparticipating in the Race for the cers that have grown and spread effectively manage her health. first time led by her mother “I am very grateful for the resulting in more costly treatRoberta, a 22-year as a breast ments and a much lower chance BCCP for helping me maintain cancer survivor. the proper mammography for survival. For more information about schedule set forth by the physiDuring Elizabeth’s follow up the Ohio Breast and Cervical examinations it was determined cians,� Elizabeth said. “As a Cancer Program visit woman, I consider it a ‘have to’ that the mass that was found The Susan G. that we all be more diligent with Komen for the Cure Columbus was only tissue and that she Affiliate is also encouraging supporters and advocates to contact their state legislators to urge them to keep funding the BCCP.

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13,591 women - of which 213 were diagnosed with breast cancer. Unfortunately as the state has faced difficult budget challenges in recent years, funding for the program has been significantly reduced. Based on the most recent data, 150,601 women in Ohio (8 percent of the population) are eligible for BCCP however only 11 percent of that population can be screened at current funding levels. In the proposed state budget for fiscal years 2012-2013, funding for the Ohio BCCP program is reduced by another $228,000 over the next two years translating into roughly 1,300 fewer screenings. Ohio’s Komen affiliates recognize the state’s fiscal situation, so instead of asking legislative leaders to restore funding at levels from previous years, the request is to refrain from any additional reductions. “We realize that it’s unrealistic to expect the BCCP to receive more funding during these tough economic times,� Komen Columbus Executive Director Katie Carter said. “When the current budget problems are resolved and the state can dedicate more resources toward prevention, we will continue to show the cost benefits of early screening versus treatment and ask that funding be increased.� While state lawmakers work to reform the Medicaid system to reduce costs and improve health outcomes for Ohioans, advocates for the BCCP warn that any additional reduction in access to the screening program will only lead to increases in overall health care costs. While the average cost of BCCP services is $175, the cost of treating later stage breast cancer can exceed


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May 8, 2011

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Carole Morbitzer selected for award Morbitzer says she got involved with Komen Columbus after coaching a close volleyball match. One of her star players, Lindsey, seemed distracted. Later, on the bus ride home, she noticed Lindsey and four other girls crying. Once they returned to school she approached Lindsey and discovered that her mother had just been diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. “I stood there in the rain with Lindsey, her head on my shoulder and we both cried,” Morbitzer said. “When I got in the car, it hit me. Those other four girls who were crying with Lind-

sey...their mothers had breast cancer also.” Knowing she had to get involved, Morbitzer entered her school in the High School Team Challenge Program for the Komen Columbus Race for the Cure in 2000. The Hamilton Township team continues to grow every year due to a combination of new students joining with alumni, friends, and family. Last year the team reached an all time high of 816 members, and Morbitzer hopes that number will be surpassed this year. One of those alumni running

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Photo courtesy of Komen Columbus

Morbitzer receives the 2011 Most Outstanding Individual Volunteer of the Year from Susan G. Komen for the Cure. She was singled out for the award from tens of thousands of volunteers worldwide.

Photo courtesy of Komen Columbus

During the 2010 Komen Columbus Race for the Cure, Morbitzer, on left, high-fives a student. Last year her school, Hamilton Township, had more than 800 people on its team. This year Carole’s team is 900.

are all there for the same purpose, to join in the fight. There are times when you will laugh and in the next instant, cry. I tell my students right at the beginning, ‘You all know I’m going to cry!’ They al-

ways laugh because they know! I tell them, ‘Be prepared to cry also. You are going to have fun, but you are also going to realize that you are a part of something bigger than you could imagine.’”

2011 Komen Columbus Race for the Cure Sunday, May 8, 2011 sales manager

design and production

Doug Dixon

Annie Steel

2011 Komen Columbus Race for the Cure is a special advertising supplement to ThisWeek Community Newspapers .



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with her every year is Lindsey, who was also one of the first people Morbitzer called after finding out she received the Outstanding Individual Volunteer Award. “[Lindsey] began to cry and said, ‘I am so proud of you.’” Morbitzer said. “In my 16-year career, I have told hundreds of students that I am proud of them. It was the first time that a former student said those words to me.” In the 11 years Morbitzer has coached volleyball with Hamilton Township, she has had seven players experience their mothers’ battles with breast cancer. This motivated her to raise an incredible $95,027 for the Columbus Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure through Race registrations, pledges,Volley for the Cure events and other donations. “Every year I learn of more students who are affected by breast cancer,” Morbitzer said. “I will do everything I can for the rest of my career to get students involved in the fight against breast cancer. I will continue to encourage students to participate in the Race for the Cure every and for the rest of their lives...or better yet, until there is a cure.” Each year, Morbitzer not only organizes a team to be in the race, but another 200 volunteers at the start line. Her group even choreographed a dance they taught to breast cancer survivors and then performed at the Survivor Ceremony on Race day. She says her students have a great time during the race, but do remember what is important, the survivors. “When the survivors come through those State House doors [at the Survivor Ceremony], I will look around and I will see several students in tears,” Morbitzer said, “It is during those moments when I have realized that my students get it. They understand why they are there and realize that they are a part of something amazing.” Under Morbitzer’s tireless direction, every year a new group of students becomes engaged in the breast cancer cause not only at Hamilton Township, but in Central Ohio, as she provides advice and suggestions to other area high schools for forming Race teams and planning Volley for the Cure events. As Outstanding Individual Volunteer of the Year, Morbitzer shares this advice for those participating in their first Race for the Cure: “You may have seen footage of the race on TV or looked at pictures in the paper, but you cannot truly understand what it is like until you have participated in the race. It is an experience like no other. To think that over 50,000


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Wife. Teacher. Coach. Volunteer. Words that just begin to describe Carole Morbitzer, this year’s Outstanding Individual Volunteer Award winner from Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world’s leading breast cancer organization. Morbitzer was selected among thousands of Komen for the Cure volunteers worldwide for her dedication to the breast cancer cause, constant new ideas and willingness to lend a hand. But Morbitzer’s contributions go far beyond that—- she has inspired hundreds of others to become passionate about breast cancer.

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Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is May 14. The event raises funds to help combat breast cancer.