Susan G. Komen Listening Tour makes stops in Salina

Cancer survivors, friends, family, providers and caregivers gathered Tuesday to talk about cancer care in Salina and central Kansas.

Erica Terry, CEO and executive director of Susan G. Komen of Kansas and Western Missouri, made a stop in Salina for the organization’s statewide listening tour. Salina is the third city in the tour. Terry has been to Wichita and Hays and is heading to Topeka next week with trips planned to Pittsburg and Garder City later this year.

“Our objective and goal is to really understand what cancer looks like in each community,” Terry said.

The organization recently combined its Kansas City and Wichita offices, so it is covering all 105 counties in the state.

“We know it looks very differently in Kansas City compared to Salina or Garden City,” Terry said. “We need to be in the community, ask the questions, meet with survivors, providers and family members to understand what it looks like.”

Terry said there are three main things the organization is looking at for the tour: What access to care looks like in the community, what barriers to that care exists in the community and understanding the resources available in the community.

“We’ll put all of this together in a report and will report back to each community individually and comprehensively we’re going to use this data to inform our plan for the future,” Terry said. “It’ll inform what Komen Kansas and Western Missouri will do from a community investment point.”

On Tuesday morning, Terry heard from medical professionals at the Tammy Walker Cancer Center, and on Tuesday afternoon she heard from a support group at Presbyterian Manor. Daniel Craig, cancer outreach coordinator for Tammy Walker, said it was good to have the events separate.

“We really wanted to see kind of what the needs that some of the providers, social workers and other professions see,” Craig said. “On the other end, what are some of the needs the community as a whole sees.”

The cancer support group meets at 12:30 p.m. every fourth Tuesday of the month, except November and December, at Presbyterian Manor in the lower level. It was started by one of Tuesday’s attendees, Ken Jennison.

“We started in about 1999,” Jennison said. “I was coming back to Salina after having surgery in Minnesota and thought about what I could do to help people here.”

Jennison said the group has been helpful for him.

“I don’t lie awake at night dreaming about cancer,” Jennison said.

There was a wide variety of thoughts from those who took part in the discussion. Some attendees talked about the positives they see in Salina, such as organizations like Tammy Walker and OCCK, that help provide such services as treatment and transportation.

Craig said it was helpful for him to see some of the common themes from the community, such as financial concerns for those receiving cancer treatments and those screening for cancer.

“One of the things that really stood out to me was the challenges around increasing the awareness of people needing to be screened,” Craig said.

While there were many concerns people had, Craig was glad to hear from the group about the good things Salina offers.

“I think one of the things that was really nice to hear is just what a great community Salina has,” Craig said.

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