College of Public Health students graduating

Susan G. Komen Lexington launches outreach programs to target minority breast cancer patients

Susan G. Komen Lexington is launching Colors of Promise, an African-American community outreach program, as well as Ties That Bind (Lazos Que Perduran), a Spanish-speaking outreach program, in the Lexington, KY area. In 2011, Komen Lexington partnered with the University of Kentucky to create a Community Profile report. The report found that while the incidence rate of breast cancer is higher in Caucasian women, the mortality rate is higher for women of color due to lack of early detection. Since then, Komen Lexington has been working to launch these outreach programs.

Komen Lexington is partnering with Sister’s Fighting Breast and Cervical Cancer Coalition (Sister’s Fighting BACC) from the American Cancer Society and Center for Disease Control’s Community Health Outreach Workers (CHOW) project in order to further promote breast cancer awareness and education among socially disadvantaged and low-income residents living and/or working in communities of color in the Susan G. Komen Lexington Affiliate’s 58 counties in Kentucky.

Eileen Smyth, Mission Director for Susan G. Komen Lexington, said the communities of color throughout Komen Lexington’s 58-county service area will benefit from a coordinated effort to promote knowledge of and deliver resources to previously underrepresented and underserved populations.

“Our main goal is to enhance the likelihood that the minority communities, especially low-income women of color, benefit from the resources available from Susan G. Komen,” Smyth said. “We want to increase the numbers of non-government organizations that serve African-American and Hispanic community residents who apply for Susan G. Komen grant funds.”

Colors of Promise was created through the efforts of a small group of researchers, community-level practitioners and agencies including Mark Johnson and Jessica Jackson (Lexington Fayette Urban County Government’s Health Department), Vivian Lasley-Bibbs (Kentucky Department of Public Health Office of Health Equity), Nancy E. Garth (University of Kentucky Health Care Polk Dalton Clinic), and Dr. Linda A. Alexander (University of Kentucky College of Public Health) using an advisory committee model that serves to inform SGK of strengths and challenges of low income women as they seek help for breast cancer risk education.

Colors of Promise received a $4,000 grant from The American Psychological Association Socioeconomic Status Related Cancer Disparities (SESRCD) Program to be used towards the outreach program. The main goal of the SESRCD program is to build the capacity of community cancer-serving organizations to address health disparities in cancer through the adaptation and utilization of evidence-based cancer prevention and control efforts for socioeconomically disadvantaged populations. Ties That Bind also received a grant from the Susan G. Komen headquarters for $35,000.

Colors of Promise and Ties That Bind are using ambassador programs to spread the message of awareness and prevention throughout the Lexington community. Ambassadors receive Susan G. Komen educational materials to distribute to local churches, community centers, businesses, etc. Anyone interested in being an ambassador should contact Eileen Levy Smyth at (859) 368-7133 or by email at

Founded in 1996, Susan G. Komen Lexington has invested over two million dollars in Central and Eastern Kentucky—assisting low-income women and men in the battle against breast cancer. We cover 58 counties in Kentucky with our funding to make sure that men and women get the quality care that they need and deserve. We raise our dollars locally—75 percent of our dollars are used locally for community mission work while 25 percent goes towards mission work to find the cure through groundbreaking research. Visit Susan G. Komen Lexington online at for more information.

Featured in WKYT News/Herald Leader August 2013