Capitol Hill goes to Sacramento

By Lisa McGovern, Executive Director, Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program

(From left to right) Koby Rodriguez, Courtney Quinn, Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Lisa McGovern and Doug Carson

I just had my annual mammogram. My experience was excellent—from the moment I was greeted at the reception desk to the actual imaging and conversation with the technician, right to my exit through the front door. I even did the follow-up survey to share my gratitude for good and kind care! But inexcusably, excellent care does not happen everywhere—or for everyone. And there are unique obstacles faced by the LGBTQ+ community. Some have faced a range of uncomfortable and discriminatory practices that have contributed to mistrust of the health care system and reluctance or inability to access routine cancer screenings.

Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.)

So, continuing the learning tour I began at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in early August, I traveled across the country to visit another Prevent Cancer Foundation community grant recipient addressing the unique needs of the LGBTQ+ community in Sacramento, California.

Joining me to highlight the work of Albie Aware Breast Cancer Foundation, a 2022 Prevent Cancer Foundation grantee, were Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), who co-founded the Congressional Families Program more than 30 years ago and represents the district where Albie Aware is based, and my husband, Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass).

Unfortunately, Sacramento County has a higher death rate due to breast cancer than the national and state averages, and the LGBTQ+ community has increased risk factors for breast cancer and less access to screenings.

With the Foundation’s funding, Albie Aware, the largest nonprofit organization dedicated solely to breast cancer in the greater Sacramento area, will bring mobile mammograms to at least 90 members of their local LGBTQ+ community and will hold a virtual event for breast cancer awareness.

Led by its dynamic executive director Courtney Quinn, who also identifies as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and is a breast cancer survivor, Albie Aware is meeting LGBTQ+ people where they are—physically and emotionally—to break down some of the barriers to getting screened and staying healthy. We heard from Courtney during our visit, as well as the Founder of Albie Aware, Doug Carson, and the Chief Program Officer of the Sacramento LGBT Community Center, Koby Rodriguez, all of whom highlighted how the resources being offered by Albie Aware are helping the LGBTQ+ community in Sacramento.

The Prevent Cancer Foundation’s community grants program recently announced support of Albie Aware and nine other projects across the U.S. dedicated to increasing cancer prevention and early detection in LGBTQ+ communities. Each project was selected through a competitive grants process and awarded a one-year, $25,000 grant. The Prevent Cancer Foundation is proud to support Albie Aware in their work to reach this community and improve access to lifesaving screenings.

Our collective goal is to increase screening rates to prevent cancer and detect it early across all populations—and across America! It is my honor to visit the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s exceptional community grantees to showcase the impactful work being done to make quality health care more accessible and affordable. I always leave inspired, energized and grateful for their work!

As we recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, it’s important to remember the unique barriers faced by the LGBTQ+ community when accessing the health care system, which result in disparities in cancer risk, screening and treatment. That’s why I’m incredibly proud of the Prevent Cancer Foundation for supporting organizations like Albie Aware and many more committed to increasing education and access for this population.

If you are interested in applying for a Prevent Cancer Foundation community grant, click here to learn more.