Community: Get Involved: Gateway to Hope
This nonprofit organization offers comprehensive medical treatment and caring comfort to uninsured and underinsured patients who are battling breast cancer.
Six years ago, Dr. David Caplin, a local plastic surgeon, met with a patient who was diagnosed with breast cancer. Suzanne needed a double mastectomy to save her life, but felt that the expense would burden her family, a harrowing decision that would ultimately cause her to lose her fight against breast cancer. What’s more disheartening is that Suzanne was aware of the lump in her breast for two years before seeing a doctor; she knew that even if a mammogram came back positive for breast cancer, that she would be unable to afford treatment.
Suzanne is like many women in our community. She was in her early 30s and was the breadwinner of her family, but didn’t have insurance. Dr. Caplin was treating her husband when he learned about Suzanne, but by that time, she was already very ill. When she died, Dr. Caplin says he didn’t want anyone else who was diagnosed with breast cancer to have to make the difficult decisions Suzanne was forced to make. Her story inspired him to start Gateway to Hope in 2005, a nonprofit that offers complimentary comprehensive treatment to uninsured and underinsured breast cancer patients.
Dr. Caplin began asking medical professionals in the area to donate their expertise and services to patients with breast cancer. He first called oncologic surgeon Dr. Marlys Schuh, who agreed to co-found the organization with Dr. Caplin. Together, the doctors called upon their colleagues to join their efforts; each year as the need grew, the organization expanded its outreach to recruit new surgeons, oncologists, radiation specialists, lab techs, nurses, pharmacists—all the specialists a cancer patient may need during her (or his) treatment. Today, there are more than 130 physicians, hospitals, laboratories, pharmacies and social service professionals who donate their services to Gateway to Hope patients. The organization’s mission goes beyond medical treatment to partner with businesses that provide transportation, medication, medical supplies, home health care, bras, wigs and meals to patients.
“Our goal is to relieve patients of the stress that comes with having a breast cancer diagnosis and having nowhere to turn,” says Cindy Frank, executive director of Gateway to Hope. “Our mission is to give them the treatment and support they need in order to get them to the point where they can live long and happy lives with their loved ones.”
Since its inception, Gateway to Hope has cared for more than 150 patients, and the need keeps growing. With that growth, the organization relies on volunteers who help organize events and do community outreach. “We want to make sure everyone who needs us knows about us,” Frank says. “If individuals have a church, work or school group or any organization that would let us come speak to their group, that would be terrific in helping to get our name and mission out there.”
Gateway to Hope also has a Young Friends group and multiple committees that welcome new members. And in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Saks Fifth Avenue is partnering with the organization for “Key to the Cure 3D” on Wednesday, October 20, a private shopping event to benefit Gateway to Hope.
For more info about Gateway to Hope or the Key to the Cure event, log on to gthstl.org or call 314.569.1113.
Gateway to Hope Survivors and Volunteers at The 2010 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure
Gateway to Hope Patient Chantelle
Gateway to Hope Patient Constance
Gateway to Hope Patient Chantelle
Photo credit: Photos courtesy of Gateway to Hope