Bayside doesn’t have a lot of infrastructure. We don’t have a plaza or shopping. But we have people. Lots of really interesting people who do important things in the greater community.
Rose Gale-Zoellick is one of those people. She and her husband, Jim, bought their Bayside home, just a few doors from the corners, 23 years ago. Rose says the neighborhood, the rolling hills and the cows remind her of Vermont, where she grew up. “I love the sense of small town community,,, I enjoy walking along Old Arcata Road past Jacoby Creek School overlooking the Bay each morning.. and enjoy greeting my neighbors who also walk at that time.”
Twelve years ago Rose became executive director of the Breast and GYN Health Project (BGHP), a non-profit, 100 percent local, resource center that provides support and education for individuals facing breast or gynecologic cancer concerns. BGHP’s small staff and dedicated corps of volunteers (many of whom are cancer survivors) are based in Arcata, just across from the Co-op, and they provide services which help people navigate the confusing and often overwhelming barrage of information and decision-making that accompanies a cancer diagnosis.
They do this in many ways. The Warmline has volunteers available to listen, answer questions and provide referrals. The Patient Navigator Program supports and guides clients through the whole process of cancer diagnosis, screening and treatment. Consultation Planning prepares them to make the most of their medical appointments. Support Groups provide an opportunity to meet and share with others.
Amazingly, all services are 100 percent free of charge and focused on the unique circumstances and needs of each individual patient. And they are paid for almost entirely by fundraising within our community. Neighbors helping neighbors.
Throughout the COVID pandemic, the BGHP has continued to provide its full range of services, adopting remote technologies as needed. But the pandemic has impacted how people are seeking care. As of the end of October, the project saw a 40 percent drop in new clients seeking support, and there is concern that many people are delaying or skipping preventive health care appointments, including cancer screening like pap tests and mammograms.
But Rose is quite clear: “We want community members to call us if you are facing a breast or gynecologic cancer concern or diagnosis. BGHP is here for people facing cancer or cancer concerns, and we are independent of the medical system.”
So maybe that’s a good New Year’s Resolution. Make sure you are up to date on your health checks, make an appointment if you aren’t, and call if you have questions. The BGHP’s phone number is (707) 825-8345.
As always, send any thoughts, comments or Bayside news to [email protected].