New fund covers some women’s cancer tests
Jennifer Rako of Chatham is a breast cancer survivor and, while she prefers not to be in the spotlight, she has brought to fruition an idea to help women with prevention and early detection of women’s cancers.
“She came to us wanting to know what our needs were in regards to women’s cancer services,” said Jennifer Cummings, Cape Cod Healthcare Foundation’s associate director of development.
From these discussions, the Cape Cod Women’s Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Fund was formed to cover the costs of diagnostic testing of women’s cancers not covered by health insurance.
“Some women have the means to pay for all their care, others will do what is covered by insurance and some may not have insurance,” said Rako. “I want to put my energy from having this (breast cancer) behind me to helping with the future of others.”
The fund currently covers 3-D mammograms, Fast Breast MRI and genetic testing. More tests may be included going forward, depending on changes in health insurance that may or may not cover them, and as new types of testing becomes available, according to Cummings.
The Fast Breast MRI is one of the tests that is not covered by health insurance.
“While genetic testing is covered by most insurances, a follow-up session with a social worker to support a woman after genetic testing is not,” said Cummings. “That’s what a lot of our requests have been for.”
There are no financial restrictions and the fund has already helped six women in its first few months of operation.
Cummings explained that most of the requests have been around $100 to $200 and, for the women who have received assistance, it has been a big help for them.
Cape Cod Academy Fundraiser
Rako joined forces with Cape Cod Academy’s Pink Ribbon Club to further promote the fund through a dance marathon to raise money and awareness, which will be held at the school on March 24.
“My daughter, Alexandra Bernardo, was president of the Pink Ribbon Club for several years before she graduated in 2016,” said Rako. “When she was there, the club donated proceeds from their fundraisers to the Cuda Women’s Health Center. I thought it would be great to get Pink Ribbon involved with the dance marathon.”
The Cape Cod Healthcare Foundation has been working with the Pink Ribbon Club for a number of years, according to Cummings.
“They kicked of the Cape Cod Women’s Prevention and Early Detection Fund with an initial donation of $3,500 from all their fundraisers over the past school year,” she said.
“The club is very passionate about keeping fundraised money on Cape Cod and giving back to individuals in their own Cape Cod community, so it was a no brainer to contribute money to the Cape Cod Women’s Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Fund,” said Jessica Durfey, a Spanish teacher at Cape Cod Academy, and Pink Ribbon Club advisor.
The goals of the fund struck a chord with our club members, said Mariah Van Sciver, president of the club and a senior at the school.
“We are so pleased that we could support it. Although, plans for the Spring Dance Marathon are still in the making, we are committed to continuing this fun and meaningful annual event.”
Labor Of Love
The Pink Ribbon Club formed in 2009 in honor of Irene Santos, a retired health and physical education teacher who had breast cancer during her tenure at Cape Cod Academy, explained Van Sciver.
“A true educator, she shared her personal journey with her students, increasing our understanding of a serious health challenge that is a part of so many women and men’s lives. Our membership of more than 30 includes young women and men in grades six through 12,” she said.
Rako is helping the students organize the March 24th Cape Cod Academy Dance Marathon, which will be held from 4 pm- 8 pm. at the school on Osterville West Barnstable Road in Osterville. It will include face painting, dance performances by local dance studios, refreshments and a lot of dancing by participants. Everyone is invited.
“This is a labor of love, I went through breast cancer treatment, chemotherapy and four surgeries,” said Rako. It’s very scary when you are a mom and have to tell your child you have cancer. I just want to create something beautiful out of something scary.”
Further information and donations to the fund can be made by contacting Jennifer Cummings at 508-862-7849.
[Featured Image, courtesy of Cape Cod Academy Facebook Page: The Cape Cod Healthcare Foundation recognized members of Cape Cod Academy’s Pink Ribbon Club and thanked them for their nearly $3,500 donation to start the “Cape Cod Women’s Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Fund”. This fund covers the cost for cervical and breast cancer detection services for women who can’t afford them.]