Komen fund helps Rock County women during breast cancer treatment

Komen fund helps Rock County women during breast cancer treatment

For those diagnosed with breast cancer, every day presents a different challenge.

“I just take it day by day,” breast cancer patient Brandi Garetson said.

For Garetson, that daily journey started on March 2. What she thought was stomach pain turned into a stage two breast cancer diagnosis.

“It was rough. Just the word cancer alone will frighten someone. I have a lot of great supporters that have gotten me through this just a day at a time,” Garetson said.

The mother of two is in her third round of chemo. Day by day, she sees the support of her family and friends through a Facebook group.

It’s not only the support from people she knows but those at the Beloit Health System/UW Cancer Center and help from funds provided by the local Susan G. Komen affiliation that help ease the burden.

“The second thing that is on your mind, besides the cancer, is ‘How am I going to pay for this?'” Garetson said.

Money from the South Central Wisconsin Komen treatment access fund helps with treatment costs, as well as things like rent, utilities and transportation.

For the first time in 18 years, a lack of donations is creating a problem.

“There was a month gap where we didn’t have any funding available. It’s difficult especially when there aren’t that many resources out there,” Breast Patient Navigator Taylor Becker said.

According to research done by the South Central Komen affiliate, more people die from breast cancer in Rock County than any of the seven other counties covered through the local affiliate. The Susan G. Komen South Central Wisconsin community profile places Rock County in the lowest ranking for health outcomes and factors. The report attributed the poor ranking to high unemployment and lack of insurance.

“There are a lot of financial needs as well that might be due to treatment, but it’s also in the position that a lot of our patients are living paycheck to paycheck and on a limited income,” Becker said.

Data suggest that it will take 12 years for women in Rock County to meet the Healthy People 2020 breast cancer death rate target, which other counties will reach in a matter of five years.

The South Central Wisconsin Komen affiliate has targeted Rock County with the goal to increase access to breast health services and improve barriers to increase access to screening and treatment.

Now with the help of the local Komen affiliate, Garetson’s day by day journey is made a little easier knowing she is not alone.

“You have to have 100 percent focus on your cancer, and if you can have your supporters worry about that part for you, it takes a little bit of the burden off, so you can concentrate on your cancer.” she said.