Thanks to Virgil Elings

The Cancer Center of Santa Barbara would like to thank Mr. Virgil Elings for his generous contributions to our community. His donations, totaling $200,000, may potentially save 400 lives through early detection of colon cancer. Since 2000, the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara has been very active in the prevention of colon cancer. Through our Colon Cancer Screening and Prevention program, we have hosted prevention symposiums, screening events, and started a genetic counseling program to meet the needs of those with a significant family history of colon cancer.

Our programs aim to open dialog surrounding the topic of colon cancer and proper screening, as well as provide take-home screenings tests—fecal immunochemical tests (F.I.T.)—at no charge to those 50 years of age and older. These tests are processed free of charge, and for the majority of participants, come back negative. However, a handful of individuals receive a positive test result, meaning the test detected blood in their stool. Mr. Elings’s donation to Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics and Sansum Clinic ensures that this group of people, who require further screening, may have the opportunity to receive a colonoscopy, a potentially life-saving test that may have otherwise been cost-prohibitive.

In years past, our staff has encouraged those with a positive F.I.T. result to visit their physician in order to discuss their need for further screening and to request a colonoscopy. For many community members we serve, an office visit alone is simply too expensive, not to mention the additional cost associated with a colonoscopy.

Due to Mr. Elings’s generosity of funding colonoscopies for 400 community members, this financial barrier to proper screening may be removed. We can now have the confidence that our goal of providing thorough and adequate screening and early detection of colon cancer is being furthered for those in our community who lack insurance. We are grateful to Mr. Elings for sharing the Cancer Center’s passion to keep Santa Barbara colon cancer-free by believing that screening saves lives, and to the Santa Barbra Neighborhood Clinics and Sansum Clinic for their involvement in this important program.—Fred Kass, M.D. (Medical director of research and wellness, Cancer Center of Santa Barbara)

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