Supporting a ‘Gateway to Hope’

Columnist Lois Caplan

BY LOIS CAPLAN

IT’S THE HOTTEST EVENT IN TOWN featuring the Sizzling Steinways, an awesome auction, a gourmet barbeque buffet (is this an oxymoron?) and a cool crowd at an intriguing venue. This toe-tapping, finger snapping musical happening on Friday, Sept. 24 is a fundraiser for Gateway to Hope, a breast cancer lifeline that provides comprehensive medical treatment to breast cancer patients in Missouri who have fallen through the cracks and who otherwise would be untreated because they cannot afford care. This very special event will be held at Moulin, 2017 Chouteau Avenue at 7 p.m. where the cuisine will be provided by its parent restaurant Vin de Set.  Co-chairs Roberta Gartenberg, Margie Jaffe, Sue Lesser and Fran Zamler all assure me that the evening will be filled with unique entertainment in addition to “The Piano Men” whose dueling piano performance is mind boggling.  “Get your requests ready and warm up your vocal cords. You’re going to have some fun.” they say. “Dress for the evening is totally casual! Jeans? Of course.” Reservations starting at $125 per person may be made by sending your check, payable to Gateway to Hope to KaliedoHope, 845 North New Ballas Court, Suite 380, St. Louis Mo. 63141. You may also call Executive Director Cindy Frank at 314-569-1113 and charge it to your credit card.

This unique organization is hugely successful. It was founded in 2005 by Dr. David A. Caplin, a reconstructive surgeon, and Dr. Marlys Schuh, an oncology breast surgeon, with the common vision of enabling low income individuals who lack health care insurance to secure breast cancer treatment and improve their survival rate due to early intervention. “I thought we would be doing well with just a patient a month, 12 total for a year.  This year we had 12 patients in just 6 weeks.” enthused Dr. Caplin. Diane Gallant, president of Gateway to Hope and herself a breast cancer survivor told me, “We have served over 150 patients since the beginning of Gateway. Without us I don’t know where they would be. These women are so grateful to us for saving their lives that they all want to give back. In fact, our very first patient was the organizer of this year’s Gateway to Hope’s team for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.  She recruited 50 participants from our roster of patients.”

Gateway to Hope, a 501c(3) organization, is a “clinic without walls.”  Its staff arranges donated medical treatment for qualified individuals through their partner network of physicians, medical personnel, hospitals, surgical centers and imaging centers located throughout the state of Missouri but mostly in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Also arranged by the staff are clinical support services, such as assistance with prescription medications, utilities, meals, transportation and child care.

Karen K., a 39-year-old survivor since 2007, said, “I am a single mom without health insurance.  When I received my breast cancer diagnosis I was frightened and did not know what to do.  Gateway to Hope arranged everything and saved me from filing bankruptcy. I don’t know what I would have done without them.” KaleidoHope, a fun party and an entertaining evening on Sept. 24, is a great opportunity for healthy ones like us to help save lives of uninsured, low income women diagnosed with breast cancer.

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THIS IS A COINCIDENCE but while I was in the process of writing about the Gateway to Hope fundraiser I received a communication from Lorry Blath, which I would like to share with you.  She wrote, ‘Being a breast cancer survivor and having a survivor daughter, I am very much into educating myself and the public about all things cancer.  I am on the board of the St.  Louis Breast Cancer Coalition (SLBCC) and enjoy planning their education events. I wanted to inform you about an event that SLBCC is planning.” Blath went on to tell me that the public has much misinformation on clinical trials, so SLBCC is presenting a panel discussion at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29. at Missouri Baptist Hospital Auditorium entitled “Clinical Trials, Pay No Heed or Proceed?”

The panelists include an oncologist, a trial administrator, and a young breast cancer patient currently undergoing a trial.  Dessert and coffee will be served and the program is free and open to the public. RSVP to [email protected]

Blath also apologized that this is neither a Jewish program nor does it apply to only breast cancer. “When one receives a diagnosis of cancer, having to make the important decision of whether to take part in a trial or not, is daunting.  We hope to demystify clinical trials,” she said.

Lois Caplan can be reached at [email protected] She would be delighted to hear from you about your event, your educational program, your fundraiser or even your children and grandchildren – subjects not necessarily Jewish but necessarily good for the community.