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Houston nonprofit The Rose determined to help uninsured women receive breast cancer treatment

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted millions of lives in many ways, one of which is the severe cut back in the number people keeping up with their routine checkups. Houston-based nonprofit group The Rose, which has been helping women receive breast cancer diagnoses and treatments for over 35 years regardless of their ability to pay, is determined not to give up on its mission.

Dorothy Gibbons, CEO and co-founder of The Rose, said the marked increase in the number of people putting off their mammograms was disastrous since early detection was the key to stopping cancer in most cases.

“We are conducting our screenings while observing social distancing,” said Gibbons. “We’re at 75 percent of what we normally would be doing. Some of our ladies are having to wait a bit to get their mammogram.”

The Rose operates two clinics in Houston and Bellaire respectively where women, insured or uninsured, receive diagnostic and treatment services.


“Here’s the way it works, our 3-for-1 model,” she said. “Three insured women allow us to screen one uninsured woman.”

October is Breast Cancer Awareness according to the World Health Organization. Under normal circumstances, the landscape would be dotted with cheering crowds in pink t-shirts, attending sporting events, flaunting pink ribbons and wristbands, all purchased for the purpose of raising awareness about the dreaded disease. It’s also when free screenings, mammograms and pamphlets of information are made available on college campuses and fitness centers.

Gibbons advised young women to start getting routine breast exams.

“Our youngest (patient) that we’ve diagnosed was 19,” she said. “This past year, we did diagnostic workups on about 2800 women under 40, and we diagnosed 61.”

This year, contagion fears have brought public gatherings to a to a halt. Moreover, millions of people have lost job-based health insurance.

“Many women will not go find out what’s going on in their breast because they’re thinking, I don’t have any money, I don’t have any insurance, how can I pay for treatment?’” Gibbons said. “You see there are programs available, and our patient navigators will get the uninsured woman in the program. So, there’s so many things that people don’t know are available when they put it [checkup] off, when you get into late stage breast cancer, and that a lot harder to treat.”

The Rose is also determined to host fundraising events, such as its annual shrimp boil. Instead of a large public gathering, they are hosting “Drive Thru Shrimp Boil” at their Southeast location on Oct. 10, with a goal of raising $50,000.

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