Grant allows Conn. Natives increased access to breast cancer prevention resources

Staff reports
9/7/10

HARTFORD, Conn. – The Connecticut Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure has awarded a $35,325 grant to Indian Health Services and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation to implement a culturally appropriate community breast cancer education program that increases access to cancer prevention and detection resources among Connecticut Native Americans.

Education sessions, information booths, and the distribution of education materials led by Native cancer survivors, community advocates, and health educators will take place throughout Connecticut. To our knowledge, our proposed project will be the only such Native American cancer education program in the eastern United States.

At Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, the grant from Komen Connecticut will support Families Together for Cancer Prevention: Breast Cancer Talking Circle Education and Wellness Session, an education initiative to assist all Connecticut Native American adults, about 16,895 men and women, and their families. The program will increase Connecticut Native Americans’ knowledge of breast cancer prevention and detection resources, screening strategies, and survivorship skills through Talking Circle Education and Wellness Sessions and health information booths for Native Americans as well as their families and friends throughout Connecticut.

Each education session will have a theme such as art and breast cancer awareness; breast cancer risks, prevention, and early detection; navigating the health care system; and screening and survivorship strategies (including repeat screenings and screening resources). The education sessions and information booths will be guided by Native American breast cancer survivors, trained as educators, and supported by other project team members, health professionals and health educators.

As one Connecticut Native American said, “We have to educate the people about cancer, especially from somebody who has been through it.”

Komen Connecticut’s Community Profile of Breast Health in Connecticut, a comprehensive community needs assessment, is used to identify the unmet breast health needs of the Connecticut community. The report is also used to establish funding priorities for the next two grant making cycles.

“It’s important that we work together to improve the breast health of all Connecticut residents,” said Anne Morris, executive director for Komen Connecticut. “We’re proud to support Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and their efforts to fight breast cancer in Connecticut.”

Since 1666, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation has lived on one of the oldest, continuously occupied reservations in North America, in New London County, Ledyard, Conn. The mission of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation is to promote spirituality, strong family values, education, social stability, economic independence, and the well-being of tribal members, employees and guests, in a healthy and supportive environment. In the spirit of this mission, we propose to serve Native Americans of MPTN and other parts of Connecticut through a program of culturally relevant Breast Cancer Education and Wellness sessions conducted in an adapted format of Talking Circles. This project is inspired by community evaluations of prior education programs and will be managed collaboratively by the Northeast Tribal Cancer Advisory Board, composed of representatives from tribes throughout Connecticut, and the multi-disciplinary MPTN cancer project team.

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