The Helping Hand

In 20002001, Dr. Diane Weiner entered the second year of the project, “The Helping Path: North and South: A Southern California Indian Breast Cancer Education Project,” funded in 1999 by a $147,000 research grant from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation of Dallas, Texas. An additional $2,500 was donated to this project from the Pechanga Tribe. This two-year intervention program was designed to develop and test culturally sensitive breast-cancer education materials among members of the Indian Health Council service population (San Diego County) and was extended to include the Southern Indian Health Council. The five-year relative survival rate for American Indian women with breast cancer continues to be the poorest of any racial group in the United States. This situation reflects advanced stages at diagnosis, restricted access to health care and health education, and poor adherence to clinical treatments, all of which are associated with social and cultural barriers. In-depth information about American Indian breast-cancer knowledge, attitudes, and survival is limited, and social and cultural variables are often excluded from many intervention programs that target specific populations. Thus, the Helping Path programs were designed and implemented to increase California Indian cancer survival through the use of culturally competent education and support. The Helping Path consisted of three complementary components: A California Indian Breast Cancer Education Project; The Helping Path, North and South; and The Helping Path, Four Directions, a sociobehavioral study designed to modify, implement, and evaluate breast-cancer education and nutrition tools originally developed for the preceding projects. Written and oral tools as well as peer counseling were used to teach methods used to improve breast-cancer detection and treatment. This project is an extension from a previous research project granted by the foundation and a direct outgrowth from Dr. Weiner’s 1996 IAC postdoctoral study.