Darlene Mims is the supervisor of cancer services and manages the grant funding program at WellStar and has been on the front lines in the fight against breast cancer for six years. Susan G. Komen® grants have allowed WellStar to provide screening and diagnostic testing for women who are uninsured or cannot afford breast imaging services.
As part of our “On the Front Lines” Series with Susan G. Komen, we sat down with Darlene to learn more about how she’s been able to open the doors for underserved women so that they can detect and fight breast cancer. Here’s what she had to say about her work:
Question: What makes your facility unique?
Answer: We are able to assist the patients that are in our community with funding if they are underserved or underinsured. The tests are rather pricey and if you have no income or you’re not working, or you’re a single mother with four children, you can’t afford [the tests], and [women] were having to make decisions like, “do I put food on the table for my children or do I go and get this exam done?” We’re able to help them get that exam done.
Q: Would you mind sharing a story about one one of the patients that you’ve seen and helped?
A: [One woman] was in her late 40s and she had young children and she was married, but she was the caregiver of her husband, he had some health issues. And so, she had him at the forefront; she was not really thinking about herself because finances were not good, she couldn’t afford to have the testing done. And she came to us, she looked us up on the Internet and found that we were attached to Susan G. Komen and that we have funds available. And so, within seven days she had had her biopsy and everything done and found out that she had cancer, she went on a trip, came back and then was able to get her services taking care of.
Q: Can you tell me about the impact you’re having in your community?
A: In the last two years since we’ve been a recipient of the Komen Foundation monies, we’ve been able to catch 16 cancers. These are 16 women who would not have known that they were walking around with cancer had it not been for these services.
Q: Where does your passion for this work come from?
A: Those 16 women that we found that would not have otherwise knew that they had cancer, they were mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers that might not be here today had it not been for us being able to assist them to get mammograms. At the end of the day, that’s what it is about. Who knows where they would be today if we hadn’t been able to assist them.