Community health center raises community awareness about breast cancer
The 25th annual Komen Hawaii Race for the Cure takes place on Sunday, October 13, 2019, at Kapiolani Park in Honolulu. In addition to raising awareness about breast cancer, the race also raises vital funds for breast health programs in the local community. Kokua Kalihi Valley is one of the many organizations impacted by grant funds from Komen Hawaii.
“I have seen firsthand in my own family and in the communities that we serve how women and their families are able to survive and thrive after a breast cancer diagnosis,” says Doris Segal Matsunaga, maternal child health director at Kokua Kalihi Valley. “The key is to find cancer early when it can be more easily treated.”
Kokua Kalihi Valley is a community health center that provides health services to 11,000 women, men and children each year. With ongoing funding from Komen Hawaii, the health center has been able to share a message of hope with women in their churches, homes, and community centers. Komen funds have even helped some women pay for screening and diagnostic services like mammograms and ultrasounds — services that they could not otherwise afford.
Mili Samifua has been working at Kokua Kalihi Valley for 30 years. Through Komen funded programs, she says the health center has been able to raise community awareness about breast cancer by bringing messages and materials translated for the Samoan, Chuukese and Filipino communities.
“I know that people pay more attention when someone they trust speaks to them in their own language,” Samifua explains. “We have trained bi-lingual peer educators to share these messages with their families and social networks.”
Kokua Kalihi Valley also has an annual breast health awareness event where folks from its Elderly and Youth Programs line the streets in pink t-shirts, holding signs, waving and dancing in celebration of life and hope.
“Even for a serious health matter, fun, laughter and hope can have healing power,” says Samifua.
If someone wants to learn more about Kokua Kalihi Valley’s breast health programs, they can call 791-9400 and ask for Mili Samifua.