In 1995, two American Cancer Society Reach to Recovery volunteers, Sue Ford and Barbara Schwarz, identified a need in Tulsa to help women pay for mammograms. Sue and Barbara had been the recipients of many phone calls from women who did not have insurance seeking mammography screening and financial resources for breast health care. They decided to form a committee to look into a program that could help these women and at the same time offer them choice in their health care provider.
Screening mammography was identified as one way in which a program could help, but many women visited through Reach to Recovery expressed concern and need for financial assistance following breast cancer surgery. A committee was formed in 1995 to investigate resources for meeting the breast health needs of indigent women. Representatives were invited from every medical facility in Tulsa that was involved with breast health screening.
The first year was spent investigating potential funding for the program and eventually the annual Tulsa Pink Ribbon Luncheon proceeds were designated for use by Tulsa Project Woman.
The committee signed contracts with the five existing hospitals in Tulsa to provide services at contracted rates and Tulsa Project Woman began serving patients in January 1998 as a program operated under the American Cancer Society. Services included mammography, ultrasound, biopsy, and an agreement by the hospitals to absorb the care for at least 3 breast cancer patients a year.
As the program grew, the Tulsa Project Woman Committee voted in April of 2001 to incorporate Tulsa Project Woman as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, separate and apart from the American Cancer Society. The organization’s Board of Directors was voted into office at that time.
Because of the tremendous success of the Tulsa Project Woman program, the Board of Directors voted to change the name of the organization to Oklahoma Project Woman in 2009 and begin serving uninsured Oklahomans in all 77 Oklahoma counties.