BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Experts say cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, and Louisiana is not immune to disease.

According to the American Cancer Society, Louisiana’s doctors will treat an estimated 28,580 new cancer cases in 2023, and some local physicians have noted that many of these cases are occurring in one specific area.

Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center pinpoints this area as North Baton Rouge, saying that its incidence of cancer is higher than any other region in the state.

MBP states that the many cases are linked to the area’s high poverty rate, saying, “Those living in poverty have higher cancer incidence rates, poorer five-year survival rates, higher mortality rates, and are more likely to be diagnosed with a later staged disease.”

How MPB aims to help North BR

MBP hopes to help North Baton Rouge patience with by means of its Alliance for Cancer Care Equity program, which is also known as the Alliance.

The $2 million project funded by the Merck Foundation is designed to provide evidence-informed, multi-level interventions to improve patient-centered care for communities in North Baton Rouge.

MBP announced Monday that Nicole Honoré has been selected as Director of the Alliance.

Why MBP values Honoré’s perspective

Honoré was chosen to manage the day-to-day implementation of Mary Bird Perkins’ due to her vast experience in grant management and extensive work in expanding opportunities for underserved and vulnerable communities.

After earning her BS in mathematics from Southern University and her M.Ed. in secondary mathematics from Louisiana State University, she went on to work as an educator and, more recently, serve as director of programs for 100 Black Men of Metropolitan Baton Rouge as well as regional director for Greater Education Opportunities Foundation (GEO).

Honoré said she feels honored to take on this new leadership role and assist her community. She stated, “I am so proud to lead this life-saving project on behalf of Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. For too long, communities across North Baton Rouge have suffered from a variety of health inequities, including poor access to cancer care services and treatment.”

Nicole Honoré / Image Credit: MBP

She acknowledged what MBP has already done to help locals and vowed to contribute to the continuing effort, saying, “Whether it’s finding access to reliable transportation, securing health insurance coverage or simply finding a healthcare provider close to home, for generations, this community has worked to overcome barriers to healthcare. As I’ve done my entire career, I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work in the community.”

What exactly will the Alliance do for North BR?

MBP was one of only a handful of cancer care organizations from around the country awarded with a Merck Foundation Alliance grant in 2022.

It plans to use the funds to:

  • Improve the coordination of patient care from diagnosis through survivorship
  • Strengthen patient engagement in treatment decisions and overall patient-provider communication; build community partnerships that address barriers to care related to social determinants of health
  • Provide essential psychosocial support services for residents in North Baton Rouge.

How you can participate

Under Honoré’s leadership, the Alliance is already working to do more for patients in North Baton Rouge.

But her efforts and those of her entire team will require support from the community.

Angela Hammett, director of patient navigation and support services at MBP touched on this by saying, “We know that if we’re going to accomplish our mission to improve survivorship and lessen the burden of cancer, it’s important that every member of our community is involved.”

This is why MBP is hosting eight community listening sessions for North Baton Rouge’s residents.

During the meetings, locals will be invited to share their experiences related to obstacles to receiving care, and the sorts of support services that they feel their community needs.

The next two sessions will take place at the dates and times listed below.

March Session

Date: Monday, March 27

Time: 6 p.m.

Location: Mt. Bethel Baptist Church, 13530 Scenic Hwy., Baton Rouge, LA 70807

April Session

Date: April 1,

Time: 11 a.m.

Location: Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, 185 Eddie Robinson, Dr. Baton Rouge, LA 70802

Click here for more information on the meetings.

Other programs by MBP

The Alliance project is only the latest effort by MBP to advance health equity across the region. The Cancer Center is also involved in four other health equity-related projects across the region.

All of these projects involve targeted outreach and strategic efforts at expanding access to care for historically vulnerable communities, including African-American women, the LGBTQ+ community and others.

Visit to learn more about the Alliance and other programs for patients.