Changing Black History When it comes to Breast Cancer

Circle of Promise: Initiative Update

In April 2014, all seven Susan G. Komen affiliates in California set out to change the disparities that African American women face when it comes to breast cancer. While incidence rates are lower, African American women suffer Lorarine with captionsignificantly higher mortality rates—41 percent higher than their Caucasian counterparts. This alarming trend is the result of compounding social, cultural, financial and geographic barriers, and is simply unacceptable in light of the overall improvement in mortality rates since the 1990s.

With the help of a $400,000 grant from Anthem Blue Cross Foundation, LLC, the Komen California affiliates embarked on an intensive campaign and program called Circle of Promise (COP) to get 2,000 African American women screened for breast cancer, ensure quality care and increase the dialogue about African American disparities within the community and the medical field. In the past two years, we have taken incredible steps toward our goals and are thrilled to report that we hit that 2,000 screening goal in California.

Komen San Diego appointed Lorraine Hutchinson as Director of Community Relations to lead our local Circle of Promise initiative. She is San Diego’s Former Deputy Fire Chief and Susan G. Komen’s 2014 Honorary Breast Cancer Survivor. Our local initiative has held impactful programs and events such as the annual Circle of Promise Day at Chollas Lake – the first African American walk/run promoting breast health. San Diego Black Health Associates, Laura Fink of Assemblymember Shirley Weber’s office, Councilmember Myrtle Cole and Suzanne E. Afflalo M.D all partnered with us for the momentous day. Free mobile mammogram events took place at Calvary Baptist Church, New Paradise Baptist Church, Pilgrim Progressive Baptist Church and several Northgate Gonzalez Markets. Education sessions took place in partnership with Bayview Baptist Church and Intuit, while Breast Cancer Awareness “Pink Sundays” took place at Bethel A.M.E. and St. Stephens C.O.G.I.C.

But the education and outreach didn’t stop there. COP ambassadors were trained to educate others about breast cancer – and have led workshops at the Binational Health Expo, LINKS’, New Life Christian Covenant, Calvary Baptist Church, New Paradise Baptist Church and many more community organizations. Getting the word out through the media has also been a very important part of our work – with help from Ebony Magazine, Entercom Communications, iheart Media, and multiple news stories in the San Diego Union Tribune, Komen’s media partner CBS 8, KUSI, San Diego 6, ABC, NBC, and more.


The Circle of Promise initiative – and all the work Komen San Diego funds – is based on an in-depth needs analysis of breast cancer in San Diego County, which carefully studies the answers to questions like:  Who is being diagnosed and at what stage, where do they live, and what prevented them from accessing care for an earlier diagnosis?  The answers help us understand where the needs are the greatest, what programs have the most impact – and what laws may need to change to expedited access to care.

This study, which is done every four years, guides all of Komen San Diego’s efforts – including the locations and sub-communities that our work is most needed. Komen San Diego is focusing future efforts in five main parts of San Diego County: North County Inland (San Marcos and Escondido), Downtown/Central San Diego, Southwest San Diego, East San Diego, and the South Bay. Komen is going to be in these communities anywhere a woman shops, works, plays or prays.

For every barrier to care keeping a woman from getting help, Komen San Diego has come up with a solution. Here’s our 10-step action plan:AFM Family

  1. HMO Issues – Working with Covered California to lobby for reform, and teach newly-insured they are entitled to a free mammogram.
  2. Underinsured – Offering one-time co-payment assistance.
  3. Don’t Have Time – Expanding free mammograms events across the County where women live, work, play and pray.
  4. Can’t Get There – Supporting County-wide transportation systems.
  5. Cultural Barriers – Funding groundbreaking cultural competency programs.
  6. Language and Literacy – Working in partnership with Live Well San Diego to provide info in all languages at appropriate levels.
  7. Financial Issues – Continuing to fund financial needs for a woman’s entire length of treatment.
  8. Diagnostics – From biopsies, MRIs and CT\-scans, getting breast cancer diagnosed.
  9. Lack of Support Services – Meal delivery, patient navigation and care coordination.
  10. Research – We are the largest NGO funder of breast cancer research in the world.

Although we have started to chisel away at the barriers to healthcare for African Americans there is still much work to be done. Komen plans to continue building partnerships and leveraging strategic relationships to address barriers by pooling resources, sharing best practices, reducing redundancies in services, and uniting partners around the project’s goals and objectives. We will also continue to provide direct outreach and aid women in scheduling a mammogram appointment. These educators will also provide continuous follow-up to support women through the process and increase the rate of completed mammography. And lastly we will continue to help to identify available services, ensure that services meet the standard 60 day quality care benchmarks and provide supplementary grants to fill any gaps in screening.

How you can help our mission

Join us: register today at to make a promise to take care of yourself first and then become an ambassador for your community! We’ll provide you with all of the resources and tools you need to make changes in your own life and to share lifesaving messages with others.

Spread the word: invite your girlfriends, mothers, sisters, daughters and co-workers to join the Circle of Promise. Tell them you want them to join you in the fight against breast cancer’s attack on the African American community before it’s too late.

Be active in your community: continue to fight with us by supporting public policy efforts, helping us to raise funds for research, and by making sure that the Circle of Promise is alive in your community!

baptist churchWorship in pink: Worship in Pink is a collaboration between local faith-based organizations and the San Diego Affiliate of Susan G. Komen. Our goal is to increase breast health awareness and decrease breast cancer in the community by working with you, our Worship in Pink Ambassadors. We hope each Ambassador will organize a breast health awareness event at your church.

Sponsor Circle of Promise
Your support is critical to our local efforts. When you invest in a Komen San Diego sponsorship, you invest in the lives of the people closest to you the people of your community… your family, colleagues, employees, neighbors and friends. Up to 75 percent of net funds raised stays right here in San Diego to support education, screening and treatment programs, and a minimum of 25 percent is contributed to Komen’s national research efforts.

Please contact Flora Hoang at 858-573-2760 x. 103 or to discuss your marketing goals and objectives.

Please contact Lorraine Hutchinson to become a COP volunteer. 858-573-2760 x 107 or



Anthem Blue Cross FoundationSupport for the Susan G. Komen® Circle of Promise California Initiative is made possible in part by a grant from the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation, LLC.

Circle of Promise® San Diego Sponsors

Torrey Pines Bank