Guest post by Janet Vigen Levy, Director, Public Relations & Marketing, Susan G. Komen St Louis.
As National Breast Cancer Awareness Month came to a close, Komen St. Louis hosted Komen President and CEO Dr. Judy Salerno on a two-day whirlwind tour. Our mission: to show Dr. Salerno firsthand the year-round impact of Susan G. Komen® and Komen St. Louis in our community.
Local Dollars Making a Local Impact
Our destinations included two of Komen St. Louis’ community partners, each helping women right now by providing safety-net services in underserved neighborhoods.
The first stop was at the Betty Jean Kerr People’s Health Centers; Komen St. Louis funding supports the People’s Sister Connection program. The program offers medically underserved and uninsured African-American women access to the quality breast health care they need, including breast health education, clinical breast exams and screening mammograms. The program staff told our group about the four mammogram events they coordinated in the week leading up to our visit. They are on track to provide more than 800 mammograms to women who may not otherwise get them.
For the San Diego Chargers, it’s not just about the pink cleats and jerseys. On October 8, the team put their money where their hearts were by providing access to free mammograms for San Diego’s uninsured women. Through a $5,000 donation, the Chargers underwrote the cost to provide San Diego’s uninsured women with access to free mammograms.
The idea for the event came from Susie Spanos, a breast cancer survivor and wife of Chargers president and CEO Dean Spanos. Her cancer was caught early through her yearly mammogram. When she heard that 1 out of 5 women in San Diego County can’t afford the potentially life-saving screening – she stepped up and offered to host an event during October which is also National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of joining Dr. Susan Love on stage at the Partnering for Cures Conference in New York. Our message was one of collaboration and innovation, urging leaders from across the medical community to work together in the fight against breast cancer. We may have unique missions, but we share the same goal – to end this terrible disease.
Collaboration and partnership are cornerstones of our work at Susan G. Komen. Since our earliest days, we’ve partnered with the very best community health organizations and research institutions. Today, we work in partnership with almost 2,000 organizations every year. We know that lives can be saved when people work together toward a common goal.
A prime example of partnership in action is the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon initiative, which Komen, along with PEPFAR, UNAIDS and the George W. Bush Institute, launched in 2011. The program builds on existing healthcare platforms to provide better access to cancer care in sub-Saharan Africa, where 100,000 women lose their lives to breast and cervical cancers each year.
While Halloween was still a few days away, there were lots of costumes and treats to be found at the eight Races held the last Saturday of October.
It was a beautiful day for the 15th Annual Komen Central Valley Race for the Cure®, which started at California State University. Several local guests attended the event, including Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims – who is a breast cancer survivor — Congressman Jim Costa and KSEE24 news anchor Stefani Booroojian, who served as master of ceremonies. To help commemorate the Race’s 15-year anniversary, organizers honored 15 of the most “recognizable and influential people” from throughout the Race’s history in the Valley. Those recognized included both Mims and Booroojian, as well as Carolyn Jorgensen, who founded Komen Central Valley’s first Race held in Fresno’s Woodward Park.
The more than 13,000 participants from all over Louisiana who attended the Komen New Orleans Race for the Cure® were also pleasantly surprised by high temperatures and fantastic weather on Race day. Along with the individuals and teams who came out to support the cause, there were also several celebrities on hand to lend their support, including Ronald McDonald, Pink Beard the Pirate, and Sir Saint and Gumbo the Dog from the NFL’s New Orleans Saints.
Although the temperatures felt more like fall, bright blue skies greeted the thousands of racers at the 22nd Annual Komen Iowa Race for the Cure in Des Moines. This year’s Race for the first time included special music along the course and at the finish line. Survivors were honored during the annual Survivor Parade, while those tragically lost were remembered with a special video tribute. All-in–all, it was another amazing event—packed with a wide assortment of pink shirts, costumes and merchandise, including toothbrushes provided by Delta Dental of Iowa.
“I truly believe that one woman can make an impact and save the lives of women who are often voiceless.”
“My journey as a breast cancer patient reinforced the importance of patient-centered and culturally competent health care. I made a promise to become a good doctor, for my sister, but surviving breast cancer made me the best doctor I can be for my patients.”
“This year my journey came full circle when I was honored to be nominated by the DC Pink Divas and selected as the 2013 Susan G. Komen Survivor of the Year.”
For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a doctor. I was determined to save the lives of girls in my community. You see, while growing up in South East Washington, DC I lost my sister at just three years old. My sister was born with a heart condition the doctors in our community could not treat and at only four years old she suffered a stroke and died. My mother says it took me two years to realize that my big sister would never come home to play with me again and from that moment on, I vowed to be a doctor to make sure no more little girls went to heaven.