Race for the Cure: Embrace Program connects patients to caregivers

The Embrace Program helped Gia Anderson (R) with rides to and from her treatments. (WTHR image)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Next weekend, the Race for the Cure raises funds in support of breast cancer patients and research.

The Embrace Program at Eskenazi Health is one example of how some of the money raised is invested locally. Embrace aims to wrap programs around patients diagnosed with cancer. It can mean help coordinating care and help getting to the doctor..

"I had no idea how I was going to get to these appointments," said Gia Anderson, who's had 33 radiation treatments for breast cancer. That's 66 rides to and from her doctor.

"It's shockingly common for people to struggle with things as simple as transportation," said DeAnna Wesley, Embrace Program Director. "These patients - some of them don't have cars or they have limited funds for gas, their car is broken down."

But Anderson never missed an appointment and was never late, because of transportation vouchers provided through the Embrace program at Eskenazi Hospital that was funded by Susan G. Komen of central Indiana.

Natalie Sutton of Komen Central Indiana said the program is designed to shepherd a patient through the process. "We also pay part of the salary for the patient navigator," Sutton said, "who is that point of contact for her through her treatment."

Gia Anderson (R) walks to treatment at Eskenazi Health. (WTHR image)

The Embrace Navigators issued Anderson prescription medicine vouchers with Komen funds.

Gia's original diagnosis was made because a mammogram that was paid for by Susan G Komen, "So thank goodness that was in place," said Wesley, "because had it not been, her disease could have been a lot more advanced."

To date, Embrace has provided 6,000 services with Komen grants.

"Race day is a lot of fun and it's a beautiful event, and there is a lot of pink and we celebrate survivors," Sutton said. But, "It's more than pink...it's about the impact."

Sutton explained how every person who registers or donates to Race for Cure has impact for patients like Anderson and long term, through breast cancer research.

Gia is now 50, and is grateful for the community that wrapped around her, providing tangible tools to survive. "I made it," she said. "I feel good. I give it all to God for putting people in my life to help me walk through this."

Komen expects to raise $1.15 million dollars at the 26th annual race at Military Park, April 29th. Sutton says registrations are on track to have 13,000 participants on race day.

Register here.