Grantee Spotlight – Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation
The Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation works in collaborative with the Mississippi Network for Cancer Control and Prevention, which is a program of The University of Southern Mississippi. Together, they identify, recruit, and train natural helpers to become Community Health Advisers (CHAs).
They work a three prong approach which includes intensive and tailored patient navigation, targeted outreach and dynamic fundraising.
Their patient navigation program is comprised of trained CHAs who are trusted community members to whom women turn in times of need. They are the “foot-soldiers” on the ground going door to door in the community and to civic events, raising awareness, educating, and assisting at-risk underserved women access a health care provider for screening. By using a systematic approach, we are training community members to educate, outreach to and support those within their community to access breast health services, which ultimately saves lives and reducing and/or preventing the worsening of breast cancer in the rural Mississippi Delta.
Because many of their clients struggle with many barriers to care and access, our agency provides intensive patient navigation and additional services such as counseling, referral, transportation assistance, and technical support. We strongly encourage our clients to talk about any barriers that keep them from getting a mammogram or clinical breast examination and try to help them overcome those barriers. Once the barriers are identified, they provide tailored assistance particularly in the form of referrals to appropriate health services and resources. Support and guidance are offered to any woman who is diagnosed with an abnormal cancer screening or a cancer diagnosis. For example, they are navigated through the health care system, provided with transportation stipends, referred to counseling and support groups, referred for patient assistance programs, and linked with other long-term cancer survivors/champions, etc.
Some the most common issues noted include:
• Fear of being diagnosed with breast cancer
• Little or no income
• Concern about screening costs (no Medicaid,
Medicare, or insurance)
• No transportation
• Lack of family support if she is diagnosed with
These issues are addressed by:
• Explain what a mammogram is and why it is
important to get a breast health screening
• Provide transportation, when needed
• Schedule appointments
• Make follow-up calls
• Refer clients for additional medical care
• Link women to other cancer survivors to hear their
• Facilitate the Buddy system
• Provide incentives to undergo screening (gift
cards, tee-shirts, tote bags, etc.)
In order to offer the most effective and comprehensive outreach; they partner with neighborhood, church, and work-related networks to find women who have rarely or never been screened for breast cancer. They also work with local groups and agencies to organize short- and long-term community action efforts to address breast cancer health disparities. Because of this community based method of outreach most of the clients come to know about the Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation by word of mouth. More than likely, an underserved woman might be encouraged by a Community Health Adviser, family member or a friend. Also, women can read about the breast health outreach program in the newspapers and/or hear about them through other media outlets (radio, television, social media), church announcements.
Lastly, through the Foundation’s fundraising efforts, they have designated funds for our outreach program with a focus on prevention, access to care, and screening.
Accomplishments made getting the word out, (i.e., the license plates, Senate Bill 3040)
• On April 22, 2015, the Mississippi Legislature approved the first historic license plate commemorating the late civil rights leader, Fannie Lou Hamer, who died from untreated breast cancer. It was signed into law on April 22, 2015 by Governor Phil Bryant. From every license plate purchased, the state of Mississippi donates $24 back to the Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation. Since the inception of this effort, the Foundation has received more than $30,000.00 from the state of Mississippi and more than 1,300 Mississippi motorists have purchased this historic license plate in the state of Mississippi.
• Local and private legislation permitting public funds to be approved by local government in support of the Fannie Lou Hamer Foundation included:
Two Senate Bills have been passed by the Mississippi legislature and signed into law by the governor authorizing Sunflower and Bolivar County Board of Supervisors to contribute funds to the Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation.
In 2016, House Bill 16 1690 authorized the Sunflower County Board of Supervisors donated $25,000.00 to the Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation; in 2017, House Bill 3040 authorized the Bolivar County Board of Supervisors voted to donate $7,500.00 to the Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation.
• In April 2015, The University of Southern Mississippi received a two-year grant in the amount of $250,000.00 from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI); the grant included a subcontract to the Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation. The name of the proposal was “Building a Culturally Sensitive Network for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research and Community Effectiveness Research Dissemination” in the rural Mississippi Delta.
• On April 4, 2017, the State of Mississippi presented a resolution to the Executive Director of PCORI, the President of The University of Southern Mississippi and the Director of the Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation, and made it available to the Capitol Press Corps.
• Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) has invited Freddie White-Johnson to participate at a roundtable discussion focusing on access and advocacy in cancer care for the African American community.
• Finally, the progress for the construction of the Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation’s headquarters, which will be built in the late civil rights leader, Fannie Lou Hamer’s hometown, Ruleville, Mississippi
The Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation’s regional headquarters will be a facility of 10,000 square feet that will house program and service offices, classrooms for educational activities, a theater, a place for physical activities and community engagement meeting space. It is our hope that by making these services convenient and patient/client friendly, we will have a greater impact on the health of the community and reduce the number of untreated cancer and other life threatening disease by 20% or higher. Not only would the foundation have a major impact in reducing the health disparities in the rural Mississippi Delta, it would also create a large economic boost for this economically deprived region. This regional facility will enable us to expand our network and further build an established community and institutional capacity in order to eliminate cancer health disparities by conducting education, training and research. It will also help us to improve access to and utilization of proven beneficial cancer interventions.
In 2015, the state of Mississippi donated $300,000.00 to the construction of the Foundation’s headquarters. We have also received more than $400,000.00 from donors all over the United States to support this project. We have purchased five acres of land and a one-half acre plot was donated to the Foundation, which is adjacent to our future construction site.
On behalf of the Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation, the South Delta Planning and Development District (SDPDD) is preparing an Economic Development Authority (EDA) grant application ($1.5 million) for construction funds. The value of the Foundation’s land and cash on hand meet matching requirements of the EDA Grant.
This construction project, from initiation to completion, will give back to the community both in terms of improved health status and as an economic catalyst. Moreover, it will serve as a symbolic reminder of the unlimited possibilities of what can happen when we work together in accomplishing a long-lasting legacy of goodwill that continues to give back for generations to come and will help save lives.