Women Rock – Providing Mammograms, Faithfully
By Lisa Welz
The phoenix, fierce and glorious with its teal and sapphire feathers glowing, a burst of sunbeams spraying from around its head, rose-gold talons digging into the ashes below, spread its wings and swiftly rose, soaring toward the heavens.
LuAnn Daniel, founder of Women Rock Inc., may not look like your typical Greek mythology figure, but ready and willing or not, on October 14, 2010, a phoenix is what she became.
It began with a sequence that has happened too many times, to too many good people. Her close friend, Susan Hicks, had just died the day before from breast cancer. It was in that moment, through her grief and emotions, and despite the emptiness she felt, that she looked up and her eyes locked onto something that would become not only a symbol for, but the name of the next path she would follow.
It was a simple thing, really. A t-shirt. Stamped on it were two words—Women Rock. Susan’s voice came back to her, she recalled, saying, “LuAnn, you’ve done so much for breast cancer, for awareness, for survivors, but you know, you can do more.” Susan, she recalled, “Fought the battle with dignity and she never lost her faith through all that. I’ve wondered if I would be able to fight the battle as well as she did.”
In that moment, staring at that shirt, a laugh on her lips from Susan’s pert comment, Women Rock Inc. was born and Daniel hasn’t looked back since. The inception of the not-for-profit organization fit perfectly with her background in diagnostic imaging, mammograms, specifically. Breast cancer awareness, she said, “Is in my blood. I met Susan through volunteering and she was the catalyst for me, realizing I could do more with what I was doing already.”
Moving ahead at what seemed like breakneck speed, within one month all necessary papers were filed with the State of Texas, and by September, 2011, they had been granted 501(c)3 status by the Internal Revenue Service.
Women Rock Inc., Daniel says, helps women the way Susan would have if she were still alive. Their vision “Is to spread breast cancer awareness and education, and increase early detection procedures and participants, in order to maximize breast cancer detection while focusing on women who suffer disproportionately due to socioeconomic circumstances…Every woman should have the opportunity to have a screening mammogram, and a chance at early detection. It’s that simple. Early detection saves lives! Women Rock wants to close the gap and provide mammograms to those women that are slipping through the proverbial cracks.”
The organization began with $1,200 from Daniel’s savings account, her personal payment for the first couple of mammograms, faith, and a lot of guts. They have grown since that time, from providing 62 mammograms the first year, to a 2014 operating budget of $160,000 and providing 302 mammograms, biopsies, ultrasounds and bill payments. They also have an arm of the organization that provides some limited financial relief to women battling the disease as paying bills can become a huge burden.
They do not do the imaging themselves, but partner with area hospitals and physicians who provide the diagnostics and bill Women Rock. Daniel would love to have a mobile unit that is able to perform the mammograms, but for now that is still a dream.
The bulk of their funds come through fundraising and donations, with a small amount of funding coming from grants. Their largest fundraiser, taking place this year on Oct. 24, is the 5th Annual Bras for a Cause. The fun filled event features men taking on the runway, modeling decorated bras.
Women Rock have provided twice as many diagnostic mammograms as they have screening mammograms, Daniel said, explaining that diagnostic mammograms are done when there are symptoms of a problem such as a lump, pain, or nipple discharge. This elevated rate is likely due in part to the women’s delay in getting screening mammograms.
The women they have served, she noted, are appreciative of the help they receive. “A lot of them are relieved that they can get a mammogram. Some of them have gone years without getting one…We’ve lost several of the women we’ve helped; they just haven’t won the battle. We have their families coming back to support us because they tell us we meant so much to their loved one during the fight, that we did so much for them emotionally and financially.”
The people are what keep Daniel going, she added. “We helped a lady about a year ago, a realtor near Dallas who is a single parent to a special needs adult child. She almost lost her life…and just couldn’t work…someone told her about us and we helped her with some of her bills. I just got an email from her saying, ‘I promised you that when I got back on my feet, for every home I sold, I would give you a donation, so there is a small donation in the mail to you. I will hold true to my promise.’ That really astounded me. I never expected to hear from her again, but what we did for her meant so much to her, she’s keeping her promise to us…It means a lot to me.”
For more information, or to make a donation, Women Rock Inc. can be found online at womenrockinc.org and can be reached by phone at (903) 487-2528.
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