Debbie Wasserman Breast Cancer Survivor

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and a breast cancer survivor was the keynote speaker on March 2 at the launch of a $2.5 million capital campaign by Sisters … By Choice to obtain and operate a full-service mobile breast clinic for underserved women in Georgia.

“Early detection is key to survival,” said Wasserman Schultz, a fourth-term congresswoman whose fight against breast cancer became public during the last few years. “Access to care is significant to eliminating disparities.”

Dr. Rogsbert Phillips-Reed, surgeon and founder of Sisters… By Choice, along with her board, hosted the luncheon at the Hyatt Regency.

“I see a sea of diversity with one common bond,” Phillips-Reed said to the multicultural, multiracial audience of women and men. “Breast cancer has a profound impact on our lives, and Sisters… By Choice is on the battlefield and forefront in seeking a cure.”

She said the organization she founded 22 years ago works to mitigate the disparities that surround breast cancer — namely “access and health inusrance or lack of resources and access to quality health care.

“The mobile clinic will be an effective and low-cost way to provide quality care in serving the underserved,” she said. “Join us as we serve the rural counties of Georgia.”

Wasserman Schultz said she responded to a request by Georgia Congressman David Scott to keynote the luncheon because of his leadership on women’s health. She said she has “admiration and praise” for Scott and his wife, also a breast cancer survivor. “They are an unbelievable pair.”

In addition to Congressman Scott and his wife, Congressman Hank Johnson, former Atlanta Mayor and Ambassador Andy Young and current Mayor Kasim Reed were at the luncheon.

“Breast cancer is a disease that touches all of us,” Reed said. “We might not be sufferers ourselves, but we all have a dear family member or friend who has fought the disease. But because of a lack of resources and education about breast cancer, many women do not have a real fight against the disease .”

Wasserman Schultz, who is also chair of the Democratic National Committee, said “the fight against breast cancer is a bipartisan issue by nature.”  She said that the key to fighting the disease is knowledge and awareness.

Georgia ranks 10th in population among the 50 states, but 40th in physician supply per 100,000 population. The latest statistics show that 15 percent of Georgia’s population is medically underserved for primary care, and access to more specialized services like breast cancer screening is even worse.

WSB-TV anchor Monica Pearson, also a breast cancer survivor, served as mistress of ceremony for the event.

Luncheon Co-Chair Ingrid Saunders Jones, senior vice president of The Coca-Cola Company, on behalf of her other luncheon co-chairs Stephanie Russell and Carolyn Young, appealed to the group to support the campaign.

“The death rates have been going down,” Saunders Jones said. “We need to provide greater access for prevention screening…. Also, preventive health care is the way to manage health care costs.

“The challenge is clear,” she said. “We have to raise the necessary funds for the mobile breast screening clinc.”

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