KINGMAN – The loss of a major donor to North Country HealthCare will eliminate funding for free breast cancer and cervical cancer diagnosis and treatment, a North Country coordinator said.
The Susan G. Komen Foundation closed its Arizona affiliate in July, which brings an end to the $150,000 donation made for the past 15 years to North Country’s Treatment Link program.
The cut came in April, before the Komen foundation was closed in Arizona. A donation of $100,000 kept the program open until March.
“Now that Komen Arizona has closed its doors, there will be no assistance from Komen next year for breast cancer treatment,” said Elizabeth Markona, North Country HealthCare coordinator in Flagstaff.
“Komen continues to fund research and other programs on a national level, but there is no longer a local affiliate.”
The program treated 10 to 25 women a year, she said.
The loss of the Komen donation will trickle down to Kingman Regional Medical Center, which had a Komen screening grant.
Several patients in Mohave County are supported by the program, and those patients will not be affected by the loss of funding, Markona said.
Once funding is depleted, North Country will not be able to enroll any new women for treatment assistance or screen women who are ineligible for breast and cervical cancer treatment through AHCCCS.
North Country screened more than 1,000 women in northern Arizona for breast and cervical cancer, and the depletion of funds will change screening eligibility to about half of those women, Markona added.
All of Arizona is experiencing the shortfall from the donation. A state task force is looking into options to bridge the gap left by the dissolution of Komen foundation in Arizona, but as of now, each county is on its own to solicit funding and find a way to keep programs viable, she said.
One way people can help is to use the dollar-for-dollar tax credit of up to $800 to support the program.
At this point, women being diagnosed after funding is expended will not have treatment options unless they qualify for another program.
“We are optimistic that community assistance in the counties we serve will help cover the gap,” Markona said. “Additionally, we are planning a tax credit push in the first few months of 2018 for those who have not yet made 2017 donations.”
She said Arizona taxpayers can still qualify for the 2017 tax credit through tax day in April 2018.