By Dorothy Jones, VP, Marketing
A breast cancer diagnosis is a terrible thing for anyone to receive but perhaps especially dire for African American women, who are less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer but significantly more likely to die of it.
We at Komen have been alarmed for years by the significant disparities in outcomes for African American women with breast cancer. In the U.S., African American women are less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than white women, but 41 percent more likely to die from it. And in some pockets of our country, that mortality gap is significantly higher.
This is a fact we’re working hard to change. And on Friday, we were honored to be in Washington, D.C., to tell the story of African American women and breast cancer, with a panel at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Conference hosted by U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio.
Answers to the disparities, we know, will come through research – Komen alone has funded more than $35 million in research to understand and treat breast cancer in African American women – and millions more to community outreach specific to women of African descent. We provided our first research grant to the issue in the 1980s, and have actively reached out to the African American community to provide programs that will make a difference. These include:
- In Northeast Ohio, we launched a Community Health Advisors program this year that sends trained volunteers into medically underserved communities to provide education and support through and after treatment. This program, in partnership with KeyBank, is expanding to 18 KeyBank cities this year and next.
- Susan G. Komen for the Cure ® has invested more than $2 million in the Chicago Breast Cancer Quality Consortium, making Komen the Consortium’s largest funder since 2008. The Consortium is working with 57 hospital facilities to address quality of mammography and treatment in an area with one of the highest breast cancer mortality rates. As a result of this initiative, Illinois has established the nation’s first state breast cancer quality board. In addition, the state has increased the Medicaid reimbursement rate for mammography for providers who participate in the Consortium project.
- In Washington, D.C., Komen has partnered with Dr. Sandra Swain of Washington Cancer Institute to improve access to care for underserved women. We’ve invested more than $11 million in the region in grants geared to improving care coordination and reducing fragmentation and enhance the health care system’s capacity to screen and provide follow-up care for women in DC Wards 7&8, and an initiative that has reduced breast cancer screening times in Montgomery County from weeks to days.
- In St. Louis, we provided a $750,000 grant in a community partnership to improve outcomes and reduce deaths from breast cancer in African American women in North St. Louis.
Our 119 Affiliates across the country fund programs locally to ensure that women of color have access to screenings, cancer treatment, and support.
We built a two part panel for the Conference covering both systemic change and the responsibility of the entertainment community in this fight. At the first, we were honored to welcome Lisa A. Newman, Professor of Surgery and Director of the University of Michigan Breast Care Center, who has done significant research and clinical work into these issues. She was joined by Geri Blair, breast cancer survivor and co-founder of Minority Women with Breast Cancer Uniting, Inc.; Dr. J. Nadine Gracia, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health; and my colleague Chandini Portteus, Vice President, Research, Evaluation & Scientific Programs at Komen.
Our second panel focused on engaging with and communicating with African American women, and we are so fortunate to have wonderful partners like MC Lyte, a Circle of Promise ambassador. She moderated the panel featuring Sybil Wilkes, co-survivor and co-host of the Tom Joyner Morning Show; Carla Ferrell, co-survivor, from the Steve Harvey Morning Show; singer Musiq Soulchild, Crystal King, Komen’s Manager of Multi-Cultural Marketing, and Sonya Lockett, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at BET Networks & executive director, BET Foundation, who have worked with us for years to reach out to African American women and encourage them to learn about breast cancer and to take action to learn about their risk, get screened, make healthy lifestyle choices and to talk to each other about breast health.
We left Friday’s conference excited by the enthusiasm and support we received from the standing-room-only crowd – and more committed than ever to finding answers through research and community outreach.
You can find information about breast cancer and African American women on komen.org or http://www.circleofpromise.org/. If you want to learn more, or if you’re worried about breast cancer in yourself or a family member, our network of 119 Komen Affiliates stands ready to help you where you live. Call 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636) or visit our website.
Our thanks again to Rep. Fudge for inviting us, to our honorary hosts: Rep. Yvette D. Clark, Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee and Rep. Laura Richardson for their support and to all who attended the day’s session. Working together, we CAN put an end to breast cancer!
Race for the Cure Recap – Northwest Louisiana, Northeast Ohio, Tulsa, Oregon, Mid-Missouri and Maine
Another Race weekend has come and gone. The passion for pink was felt across the country, as many of you joined your local Affiliate to raise money for innovative breast cancer research and important community programs – programs that touch the lives of your neighbors, coworkers, friends, and maybe even you!
Komen Northwest Louisiana, Komen Northeast Ohio and Komen Tulsa kicked off the Race weekend with their Saturday Races.
Even though it was a rainy morning in Bossier City, survivor Ann Anderson told her friends that when it came to the Komen Northwest Louisiana Race for the Cure, weather was no issue. “Cancer doesn’t sit in the car” and Ann wasn’t going to either. Executive Director Lindsay Dean shared with Shreveport Times that the event was “fantastic” and that more than 4,500 individuals came out to support their local Affiliate. Thenewsstar.com also highlights local individuals who were excited to support the Race.
It definitely looked like a sea of pink, as runners raced through the streets of Cleveland for the 19th annual Komen Northeast Ohio Race for the Cure. The beautiful weather added to the high spirits as well, as around 10,000 runners and walkers joined together for the cause. The Plain Dealer and ABC5 featured the event.
The Tulsa World and FOX23 report that the Tulsa Race for the Cure was an exciting and memorable experience for husband and wife survivors Paul and Connie Brown and the more than 9,000 participants on Saturday. The event had an extra special meaning for the Komen Tulsa staff as well, who lost their Race Director Jack Wing to cancer last Tuesday. The Jack Wing Butterfly Garden was created to honor his memory, and participants were invited to remember their loved ones by contributing a butterfly to the garden.
Heading into Sunday, KPTV shares that more than 25,000 people came out in their pink to participate in the 21st Komen Oregon Race for the Cure in downtown Portland. Affiliate CEO Thomas Bruner explained to OregonLive that these events are about more than fundraising, saying, “We honor survivors, we remember people we’ve lost, we encourage people in treatment to keep going.”
In Columbia, around 2,600 passionate supporters donned their pink for the Komen Mid-Missouri Race for the Cure. Columbia Missourian captures the spirit of many of those who participated this year, sharing some photos from the event as well.
The 16th annual Komen Maine Race in Bangor was filled with happiness and support among the participants. WLBZ, WABI and Bangor Daily News share the stories of local individuals who have a strong personal commitment to the cause.
We are so excited to see all of the ways that people across the country are getting involved this fall. And with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month right around the corner, there are even more exciting events to look forward to, so keeping checking Komen’s blog to see how we are all making an impact in the fight against breast cancer.
We are thrilled to announce today that an American and an Israeli scientist will receive our organization’s highest scientific honor: the 2012 Susan G. Komen for the Cure® Brinker Awards for Scientific Distinction in Basic Science and Clinical Research.
Muss is receiving the Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction in Clinical Research for work focused on older breast cancer patients, paving the way to state-of-the art treatments and a better standard of care and quality of life for senior women with breast cancer. Muss is director of the Geriatric Oncology Program at University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center in Chapel Hill.
The Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction in Basic Science honors Yarden’s work to advance our understanding of the biology of breast cancer and identify new targets for cancer drugs. Yarden is the Harold and Zelda Goldenberg Professor of Molecular Cell Biology at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel.
As the largest nonprofit funder of breast cancer research (outside of the federal government), Susan G. Komen for the Cure currently funds more than 500 research projects totaling $300 million all around the world. Our focus is on preventive strategies and treatments along the entire “continuum of care” – from prevention to early detection to treatments for metastatic and aggressive forms of the disease.
Since 1982, we’ve invested more than three-quarters of a billion dollars to research, touching every major advance in breast cancer treatment. Our 2012 portfolio alone includes 154 grants totaling $58 million.
Komen established the Brinker Awards for Scientific Distinction in 1992 to recognize the groundbreaking work of outstanding researchers and clinicians in breast cancer.
Click here to read the official release, including comments from Komen’s Chief Scientific Advisors, Eric P. Winer, M.D., and George W. Sledge, Jr., M.D., and more information on the incredible work of Dr. Muss and Prof. Yarden.
Every 74 seconds, someone dies from breast cancer, and sadly, too often, where you live determines whether you live.
Before her death, I promised my sister Suzy that I would do everything in my power to ensure that other women didn’t have to suffer and die from this disease. And my promise was not a promise to the women of any one country—it is a promise to all women, everywhere, which is why Susan G. Komen has been working on a global level since the mid-1990s. In this, our 30th year, we’re taking even bolder strides toward ending this devastating disease.
Just today, we were in the Bahamas announcing more progress in the global fight against breast cancer. Komen has been working in the Bahamas since 2008 in partnership with the Cancer Society of the Bahamas and the Sister Sister Support group, among others. As an island nation with a small population, the breast cancer statistics in the Bahamas are alarming:
- 48%of the women diagnosed with breast cancer in the Bahamas were under the age of 50 – with the average age of diagnosis in the Bahamas being 42, compared to 62 in the United States.
- 44% of Bahamian women with breast cancer had late stage disease at the time of diagnosis – that means Bahamian wives, mothers, daughters, sisters and friends are finding out about their cancer later and dying younger.
Today, I was honored to participate in an extraordinary event in which the Bahamanian Ministry of Health unveiled its breast cancer program, which is focused on increasing awareness, catching the disease early, and ultimately improving care and treatment outcomes.
In addition, the Ministry announced the formation of a Breast Cancer Planning Committee, which will help coordinate efforts of those working to fight breast cancer on the Island and assist the Ministry in developing a national breast cancer policy and agenda.
As part of Komen’s efforts to support the Bahamian government’s breast cancer agenda, we announced at the launch event a $50,000 grant in support of a local NGO breast cancer consortium. This program will be led and implemented by Sister Sister Breast Cancer Support Group, in collaboration with the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation and the Cancer Association of Grand Bahama. This grant is supported by the Ministry of Health, Marathon Bahamas, One Eleuthera and the wider community.
This is part of our ongoing effort in the islands: In 2009, Komen awarded Dr. Judith Hurley, M.D., of the University of Miami School of Medicine, a 2-year grant of nearly $300,000 to evaluate the genetic risk of Bahamian women with breast and ovarian cancer. The groundbreaking research by Dr. Hurley has led to the discovery that an astonishing 23% of Bahamian women diagnosed with breast cancer carry the BRCA1 gene mutation.
The BRCA1 mutation is one of the most well-known genes linked to breast cancer risk, and it is thought to explain a large portion of hereditary breast cancers, which occur in the Bahamas.
The discovery is a call to action to all of us – we must help the people in the Bahamas understand the importance of screening and treatment and educating women on breast cancer.
Our most recent grant would not have been made possible without a very dear friend of mine, who also happens to be a three-time and 10-year breast cancer survivor – Tina Lewis. Komen matched Lewis’ gift of $50,000, for a total of $100,000 toward supporting breast cancer efforts in the Bahamas. The additional $50,000 will be used to accelerate provider training, and public education and awareness efforts on the Island.
We’re also excited to announce a partnership with the Atlantis, Paradise Island Resort hotel —with 8,000 employees it is the largest employer on the Island. Through the new Pink it in Paradise initiative, the Atlantis is raising awareness and funds among its guests and employees to be used for breast health initiatives in the Bahamas.
We’re thrilled, of course, to continue our incredible partnership with Sunshine Insurance Marathon Bahamas, which has made significant contributions to helping raise awareness of breast cancer in the Bahamas and helping us bring the Race for the Cure® to Nassau, Paradise Island. We are looking forward to the 3rd Susan G. Komen Bahamas Race for the Cure®, set to take place January 19, 2013.
Our efforts in the Bahamas reflect our constant dedication to working with partners within and outside the boundaries of the United States to give women hope and battle the disease—together. I know I’m not alone when I say that I’m excited to watch our 4-year relationship with the Bahamas continue to grow, and provide headway to successful relationships in other countries.
It’s been a busy summer for Affiliates across the country! As we get closer to National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are so excited to see all of the ways that Komen supporters across the country are making an impact in their communities and in the fight against breast cancer.
Energy and spirit were running high at Vermont’s Race for the Cure in Manchester at the end of July. The Race topped 1,587 participants and raised $185,046! Debbie Peretz, the Vermont-New Hampshire Affiliate President, declared, “participants, volunteers, survivors — everybodyreally put their hearts and souls into the Race,” the Manchester Journal reports.
Akron’s first Race for the Cure was a big hit in the last weekend of July! The mayor of Akron came out to officially send the walkers and racers off towards the finish line. Along the course, everyone from local businesses to a group of motorcycle enthusiasts cheered on the race participants. The Akron Beacon Journal covered the story of one survivor, Julie Jones, who won first place in the Race!
CBS 5 reported that the Wyoming Race for the Cure on Aug. 11 had hundreds of walkers hitting the pavement bright and early Saturday morning for the event, winding through the streets of downtown Cheyenne as they followed the Race course.
In Kansas City, supporters came out by the thousands – 21,000 to be exact! Fox 4 KC covered the event, and The Kansas City Star featured survivor Melanie Bowman who spoke about the invaluable support and information she received from the local Affiliate during her cancer journey.
Komen Memorial celebrated a wonderful Race at the 2nd annual Bloomington Race for the Cure last Saturday, drawing more than 2,100 participants and raising $138,000, according to WJBC. Pantagraph.com spoke with several participants and survivors, who shared how personal the fight against breast cancer is to them.
WLBZ2 reports that more than 1,000 people came out Sunday morning for the Maine Affiliate’s Race for the Cure in Portland, capturing some of the day’s fun in a video.
In Scranton, Citizen’s Voice tells the story of Lael Swank who found a lump at age 39 and now fundraises for the Northeastern Pennsylvania Race with the help of her 176 Race team members. According to The Abington Journal, the event, now in its 22nd year, had about 6,500 attendees and raised approx. $200,000!
The San Francisco Chronicle features some fun pictures from the San Francisco Bay Area Race for the Cure this past Sunday. The piece also includes perspectives from long-time supporters and survivors who share their confidence and passion for Komen’s mission.
The Gazette and KRDO highlight last weekend’s Southeastern Colorado Race for the Cure, which brought together lots of Komen supporters – one of whom even dyed his goatee pink for a friend! The eve of the Race was just as much fun as tails wagged for Pooches in Pink – an event where dogs strutted in outfits of pink feather boas, fairy wings, shirts, tutus, and bandanas.
Rounding out the weekend, the Greater NYC Race for the Cure flooded Central Park with pink on Sunday. Among the participants were Andrea Koster-Crain and her daughter Amanda, who were named the Survivor and Co-Survivor of the Year and were featured in Newsday. CBS New York (here as well), NY Daily News, NY1 and others covered the event.
As the summer time fun comes to an end, the Race for the Cure fun is just getting started. So stay tuned for more Race recaps!