Florida Makes History as State Capital Goes Pink for First Time During October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month

As we enter Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Susan G. Komen Florida, the First Responders to Breast Cancer, are standing behind their commitment to improving women’s health in the state, and fair and greater access to affordable screenings and treatments. In a momentous move, and for the entire month of October, the state capital will turn pink to pay tribute to Floridians who have been diagnosed, are living with breast cancer and to those who have lost their battle.

Every week in Florida 264 women and men will be diagnosed with breast cancer, 93 will be diagnosed with late-stage disease, and 52 will lose their lives. In the past twelve months, over 2,700 people have lost their lives to the disease. Enacting a comprehensive 360-degree approach to fighting the disease across all fronts, Susan G. Komen works to advocate for patients, drive research breakthroughs, improve access to high-quality care, offer direct patient support and empower people with trustworthy information. The organization mobilizes advocates across the country and works tirelessly to remove barriers to care, particularly for those living with metastatic breast cancer.

“While progress is being made and we’ve seen a 38% reduction in breast cancer deaths since Komen was established four decades ago, there is still work that needs to be done,” shared Susan G. Komen Florida Executive Director Kate Watt. “We need to address the most aggressive forms of breast cancer. It is unacceptable to lose anyone to this disease. We won’t stop until there is a cure for all.” 

As advocacy grows, several Florida elected officials, with the support of Susan G. Komen Florida, are filing bills to support the nearly 14,000 women and men who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.

Senator Lori Berman is filing legislation to create access to more preventive care with SB416.  Her bill creates equitable pricing for the women and men that need to follow up on diagnostic testing as prescribed by their healthcare provider after a mammogram screening.

“By lowering one of the biggest barriers to preventative care, the long-term costs for patients will significantly decrease through early detection and treatment,” Senator Berman stated. “Having been through this personally, I know the importance of early detection can play in diagnosing breast cancer and treating it. The idea of a woman or man having to choose to wait for a potentially lifesaving test because the cost is significantly more than their screening should not be something occurring in our state.”

Representative Kamia Brown (D-Orlando) has filed the companion legislation to reduce barriers for women and men to receive additional diagnostic testing needed to detect potential cancer.  HB263 also known as the Advanced Breast Care and Diagnostic, or ABCD Bill will have certain diagnostic tests prescribed by a healthcare provider post mammography screening to be at an equal rate as the mammogram.

“We know we can save lives with awareness and strong legislation,” shared Representative Brown. “Women and men that are living with cancer want to be able to do just that, live. Eliminating the obstacles and fail first protocol allows a patient and healthcare provider to make the very personal and individual choices needed to help these patients continue to live their best life possible.”

Representative Brown also filed House Bill for step therapy, HB261, allowing a patient to take the drugs prescribed immediately rather than going through the fail-first protocol.

Continued Watt, “Susan G. Komen Florida, and the thousands of breast cancer patients, survivors, and co-survivors, are grateful for the work our state legislature is doing to help in the fight against breast cancer. Susan G. Komen Florida is working with members of the legislature to find innovative ways to provide greater care, reduce patient costs, and help ensure women have access to life-saving and life-extending treatments. We know we can save and improve countless lives by reducing barriers to care through meaningful changes to public policy.”

In the last year, Komen’s innovative work has made an even more direct impact across the state of Florida.

  • The organization piloted a first-in-the-nation Community Breast Health Navigation Program bringing non-traditional means of finding women and connecting them to available resources. In its first year, the program assisted over 2,000 women and provided them with evidence-based breast health education, community resources to improve their outcomes and wraparound services.
  • Susan G. Komen Treatment Assistance Program expanded so those burdened by the expenses of cancer treatment do not forego doctors’ appointments, avoid filling prescriptions or skip medication doses to save on the cost of care.
  • The organization announced $26 million in funding for new research projects that focus on the most lethal forms of breast cancer, including metastatic disease.
  • Komen also enacted an African American Health Equity Initiative supporting African American women who have a 41% higher mortality rate vs. their Caucasian counterparts.
  • The organization continued its work towards reducing breast cancer deaths by as much as 50% with $56.88 million in impact dollars in Florida contributing to research, education, screening, and treatment programs through grantmaking.

Added Watt, “It’s estimated that breast cancer deaths can be reduced by as much as a third if every woman or man had timely access to care. That is what we are doing.”

The Historic Capital building will remain pink throughout October and a ceremonial lighting is planned for October 15.

To learn more about the work of Susan G. Komen Florida, please visit www.komenflorida.org or call (561) 514-3020.