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Kentucky CancerLink founder reflects on the organization’s growth

When Kentucky CancerLink was first started, it was a labor of love for a woman who saw a need and ended up creating a critical link to hope for thousands.
Published: Apr. 22, 2022 at 4:05 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - In the last 14 years, countless lives have been saved and barriers have been removed for Kentuckians facing cancer, thanks to one organization.

When Kentucky CancerLink was first started, it was a labor of love for a woman who saw a need and ended up creating a critical link to hope for thousands.

When you think about the work Kentucky CancerLink does to fight cancer in the state, you have to think about the work Vicki Blevins-Booth and her team has done over the years, as well.

Prior to founding Kentucky CancerLink, Blevins-Booth worked closely with a number of different cancer organizations and often heard the same thing over and over.

“The topic was always we have resources, but people don’t know how to connect,” Blevins-Booth said.

In a state where cancer rates are high, Blevins-Booth knew there had to be a way to make that connection. What came about was a concept relatively new to healthcare at the time.

“The vision became how can we-- and a new word came about called navigation-- so how can we navigate these patients to find the resources available when they need it,” Blevins-Booth said.

That vision led to the creation of Kentucky CancerLink, a nonprofit formed in 2008 to first serve women diagnosed with breast cancer and then eventually cervical cancer.

The first grant came from the Lexington affiliate of Susan G. Komen, and from there Blevins-Booth never looked back when it came to serving the needs of cancer patients in the state.

The idea was simple, eliminate barriers to help people fight cancer and find a way to help more people get access to screenings for early detection.

“Patient navigation is basically, people don’t necessarily want pity, they want empathy, they want someone to meet them where they are at and that’s what navigators do,” said Blevins-Booth.

In 2014 Kentucky CancerLink expanded its services to include all cancers and to date, it has served more than 16,000 people from Paducah to Pikeville.

The success of Kentucky CancerLink can be directly linked to Blevins-Booth, but she will tell you it’s those she has surrounded herself with that have kept the mission going.

“I always like to think I had the passion and then I found the encouragers,” said Blevins-Booth.

And since cancer won’t be going away anytime soon, the woman who made this mission possible sees it being a link to hope well into the future.

“I just hope that we just reach more people and save more lives and meet people where they are,” said Blevins-Booth.

Kentucky CancerLink helps connect people who may have a tough time getting a cancer screening, Blevins-Booth said they are now beginning to focus on helping more people gain access to lung cancer screenings.

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