Duke Cancer Institute is committed to providing expert cancer care and investing in cutting-edge research that results in innovative cancer treatments. A large part of this work includes ongoing outreach initiatives and partnerships to improve the overall health of the surrounding communities.
Last fall, several members of Duke Cancer Institute’s Women’s Health Community Engagement Task Force, under the leadership of task force founder and breast surgical oncologist Oluwadamilola "Lola" Fayanju, MD, MA, MPHS, developed an idea for a virtual fundraiser to support the Lincoln Community Health Center, an outpatient primary care facility in Durham, North Carolina, which provides accessible, affordable, high quality healthcare services to the medically underserved.
Lincoln, which strives for 100% access to care and zero health disparities in the Greater Durham area, is a long-time community partner of DCI, which shares these goals.
Since 2012, with the exception of last year (due to the pandemic), the DCI Office of Health Equity has co-led an annual health fair with Duke’s Division of Urology and Duke Primary Care, in partnership with Lincoln, to provide free-of-charge screening services to men who are at high risk for life-threatening illnesses, including cancer.
In December 2020, the DCI-based Women’s Health Community Engagement Task Force group mobilized clinicians from DCI’s 11 cancer disease groups to form teams and challenged them to raise funds over the course of several weeks through New Year’s. The winning team would receive bragging rights and a trophy.
Spurred by both the holiday spirit and a competitive spirit, the teams would altogether raise more than $3,500 for Lincoln.
“The COVID-19 pandemic created far-reaching challenges for everyone, but it has placed a disproportionate burden on our Black and Latinx communities,” said Fayanju. “As a result, many people have postponed medical care, including routine appointments and recommended cancer screenings. Each donation we received through our fundraising efforts, no matter how big or small, will enable many more people to access the healthcare they need.”
Fayanju cited some examples:
- $20 – covers the co-payment for a primary care provider visit (men or women)
- $50 – covers the cost of a Pap smear (women)
- $200 – covers the cost of a mammogram (women)
“We hope to make this an annual tradition,” said breast oncologist Kelly Marcom, MD, whose team — the DCI Breast Cancer disease group, won the competition, raising nearly a third of the total. “We’re excited to raise more funds over the 2021 holiday season to help even more community members access cancer screenings and primary care services.”