A Letter From the Founders

February 4, 2020 10:00 am

Dear Friends of Gateway to Hope,

15 years ago, when we started Gateway to Hope, we did so with the belief that no woman should ever delay treatment for breast cancer because of an inability to afford healthcare. All of us at Gateway to Hope are so proud of what we have accomplished– in partnership with donors, supporters and volunteers like you – over the last decade and a half. We started out serving 1-2 individuals per month, securing comprehensive healthcare and providing supportive services for breast cancer patients. While our services have evolved over time, our mission has remained the same: to remove barriers to life-saving care. Today, because of your support, we serve more than 400 individuals a year from across Missouri and Southern Illinois – providing them with expert navigation support and financial assistance throughout treatment. We’re also leading the way with educational events and outreach efforts – engaging our fellow community members to encourage greater access to affordable, timely screenings and early detection services.  Here are some quick facts about the results of our efforts on behalf of women facing breast cancer:

Only 8% of Gateway to Hope recipients report skipping medications or treatments, making them 4 times less likely to do so in comparison to their peers across the country.

90% of recipients report being focused on treatment because of the support they receive from Gateway to Hope.

Recipients of our assistance have, on average, a 35% overall reduction in distress from the beginning to the end of our assistance.

The impact of our services is clear: we are making a difference, removing barriers to healthcare and ensuring women are not forced to make heart-wrenching decisions such as whether to seek treatment or whether to feed their families. Instead, they complete treatment and can live a life full of hope. The credit for this goes to people like you. You are the unsung heroes of our story – a story that is only just beginning. There is more for us to do together.

There are hundreds of more women in St. Louis and across our state who are faced with these decisions every year. These women delay treatment and too often succumb to this treatable disease because they cannot afford to access the care they need. Breast cancer treatment can cost, on average, more than $800,000. Without adequate insurance coverage, that catastrophic cost burden falls to the patient. Often, logistical burdens mount and compound: childcare costs, loss of employment during treatment, lack of transportation, inaccessibility of facilities and the overwhelming emotional burden of navigating care all get in the way. 

This issue of inadequate access to healthcare is one that is pervasive across our nation. However, for St. Louis and Missouri, we have an especially urgent issue to address: in St. Louis County, a black woman is two to four times more likely to die of breast cancer than a white woman. In fact, in this region, the mortality rate and the late-stage breast cancer diagnosis rate disparities between black and white women are the worst in the entire nation. For those of us on the front lines of breast cancer care, as Gateway to Hope has been for 15 years, this is unconscionable. We know it is unacceptable to you, too.

The good news is there is evidence that this problem is solvable. By applying our GTH programs on a larger scale, and with greater collaboration with our community partners, we can make great strides towards finding a solution.

With approximately 6,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed across Missouri each year, the scale of the challenge we face is daunting but it is manageable – if we act with urgency now. Gateway to Hope remains committed to reducing these breast cancer disparities and to ensure all women – regardless of their background or circumstance – can access the care they need to face this disease. We will continue to make a difference through our programs for patients, through our community education efforts and through our partnerships with other community providers who are also on the front lines of this fight. Today we still believe, as we did 15 years ago, that no woman should ever have to choose between life-saving care and basic needs. We are unwavering in our mission to remove barriers to care for all who need it.

Now, more than ever, we need your support allowing us to grow our organization to meet the ever-increasing number of women in need of our assistance. Imagine what our communities can look like in 15 more years if we are able to serve every woman in need of our help. We can impact so many lives together. 

Throughout this year, we’ll send you information about many opportunities to support Gateway to Hope and to work alongside us to serve our community with great purpose and impact. Will you join us? 

Thank you for all you do for women in our communities. We hope to see all of you at our events this year and look forward to the profound difference we can make working together.

Dr. David Caplin and Dr. Marlys Schuh