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  • Race for the Cure Recap – From Texas to New Jersey, 13 Races Kick Off NBCAM

    Twelve different Affiliates kicked of National Breast Cancer Awareness month this past weekend with some amazing Race events! Enthusiasm was in no short supply as thousands of participants gathered in their pink to support their local Komen Affiliate.

    Catching up from a couple of weeks ago, we definitely didn’t forget the 15th annual Evansville Tri-State Race, which took place on Sept. 20 and had more than 14,000 participants. Highlights included the Survivor Parade of Pink led by the First Lady and Mayor Lloyd Winnecke. The famous Boom Squad drum corps added to the festivities of the survivor celebration.  The Evansville Courier & Press highlights the many ways participants enjoyed the Race.

    Last Saturday, Amarillo hosted their 22nd annual Race for the Cure, covered by Amarillo.com. The website also profiled Mark Goldstein of New Jersey – a male breast cancer survivor who marked the Amarillo Race as his 223rd Race to participate in since he began in 1992!

    Records were set by the South Dakota Race for the Cure!  The move to Sioux Falls for 2012 saw a huge crowd gathered at Falls Park, the new venue.  Everyone had a great time whether it was running, walking, Kids for the Cure or the entertainment.  The Affiliate has already met their fundraising goal and more survivors than ever joined the crowd!

    The Komen Greater Cincinnati Race drew approximately 19,000 participants Saturday morning and is expected to raise nearly $700,000! WLWT shares the stories of survivors and images from the Race. Cincinnati.com and WCPO also cover the inspiring day.

    The skies may have been gray in Denton, TX, but the North Texas Race for the Cure certainly turned the scene pink. Wet weather did not dampen the enthusiasm of the 2,000 participants that came out for the 2nd annual Race on Saturday. Denton Mayor Mark Burroughs welcomed all prior to the start of the 5K, and Executive Director of the North Texas Affiliate described it as “an amazing day.” The Denton Record-Chronicle and NBC 5 covered the event.

    Although a light drizzle accompanied Race day for the SC Mountains to Midlands Affiliate, the spirits were still high. With over 4,100 participants, a new survivor area and new race course, downtown Greenville, SC, “was washed over in a pink wave of celebration and excitement,” said Bill Sorochak, Executive Director of the Affiliate.

    A sunny morning greeted the runners, walkers, and survivors in Kearney, NE for the 2nd annual Central Nebraska Race for the Cure. The Race took place on the University of Nebraska at Kearney campus which hosted more than 1,300 participants. The University’s baseball team participated in full uniform to show their support for the survivors, and the Affiliate’s ED reported that the event had runners and walkers from 12 states. Kearny Hub shows highlights from the day.

    Despite a little rain in the morning, the 19th annual Komen Northeast Louisiana Race went off without a hitch. Thousands of people dressed in pink (and some even dressed as zombies!) descended on Forsythe Park last Saturday. The Monroe News Star covers the event and shares some great photos as well.

    The Wabash Valley Race committee could not have ordered a better day for Saturday’s Race. Participants enjoyed the new venue at Indiana State University’s Memorial Stadium, and registration exceeded that of last year! Head Women’s Basketball Coach, Teri Moren, served as Honorary Chair, and her team helped with the Race warm-up and then assisted the remainder of the morning. The event also featured a 1 mile walk which was held on the Indiana-shaped trail surrounding the stadium, appropriately lined with 6800 pink flags. See highlights from the event on WTHITV.com.

    More than 3,000 participants gathered in downtown Waco at Heritage Square last Saturday for the 12th annual Komen Central Texas Race. Event Chair April Pullen spoke of the camaraderie in the air at the Race saying, “All ages, sizes and races come together for one thing and it’s for a cure for breast cancer.” The Baylor Lariat and WacoTrib.com cover the Race day.

    In Wichita, a rainbow appeared as the first of the 3 events kicked off at the Mid-Kansas Race for the Cure.  More than 9,400 participants raised more than half a million dollars as of Race day!  Peggy Johnson, long-time Komen advocate and activist served as the event’s Honorary Race Chair. The Wichita Eagle features the stories of survivor Lois Carthen and others who are passionate about ending this disease.

    Nearly 10,000 people enjoyed a glorious Race morning in Central and South Jersey.  The day started with a moving survivor procession that included a spectacular dove release. The race wound through the Six Flags Hurricane Harbor water park, where racers and walkers enjoyed up close views of the water slides. There was also a surprise engagement during the survivor ceremony (which the Affiliate to coordinate), when a man brought his girlfriend – a breast cancer survivor – up on stage and asked her to marry him! She happily said “yes!” MyCentralJersey.com tells more stories from the event.

    “Fabulous” was the word used by the Northwest Ohio Affiliate’s Executive Director Mary Westphal to describe Sunday’s Race. The 16,500 participants enjoyed a beautiful, sunny day. A fun highlight of the morning was casting votes for the favorite team t-shirt. Race participants talked with NorthwestOhio.com and The Toledo Blade about their passion for the cause and the importance of this event.

    The Chattanooga Affiliate reported that their 13th annual Race “was fabulous this weekend… We had beautiful weather and a great time was had by all.” The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported that as runners and walkers streamed past the finish line, volunteers handed them light pink ribbons, while survivors received dark pink roses. “You can never have too much pink until there’s a cure,” Affiliate President Sarah Bowen said. WRCB shares more from the event.

    The Races taking place this weekend are sure to have their own amazing stories as well, so stay tuned for more Race recaps!

  • 31 Days of Impact – Day 4, Jamie Ledezma

    The story of breast cancer is the story of people. Learn about Komen’s impact and work in the fight against breast cancer as told through the eyes of breast cancer survivors, researchers, community health workers and advocates. Read more stories.

    JAMIE LEDEZMA, FRESNO, CALIFORNIA – Breast Cancer Survivor, Advocate

    “The moment the words “You have cancer” were said, I took out my pen and pad and started asking questions. I was on a mission to get information, to make sure my baby would be born healthy and happy.”

    “I got involved with Komen because they are on the front lines advocating for the most important issues for survivors like me – in states like California, for instance, many women rely on the state’s screening program, which ensures that a lost job or lost insurance doesn’t result in a lost life.”

    “Komen’s California Affiliates are actively lobbying to sustain funding for specific programs that will make sure underserved women have access to screening and early detection of breast cancer.”

    My husband and I got to hear our baby’s heartbeat for the first time at a routine doctor’s appointment in February of 2007. Everything checked out and looked great until my doctor asked whether I had any questions. “As a matter of fact, I do,” I replied. “What is this lump? Is it a milk gland, already?”

    On Valentine’s Day, our worst fears were confirmed: I had triple negative breast cancer. I was 14 weeks pregnant and 27 years old. On that day, every goal and timeline I had carefully mapped out for our family and my career were thrown out the window. Now my focus was only on the fight to make sure my baby would be born both healthy and happy; my own health and survival were secondary. One week after my diagnosis I began chemotherapy. My oncologist prescribed a cocktail of medications that were known to be safe for the fetus because the drugs didn’t pass the placental barrier. But that reassurance was difficult to grasp while sitting in an infusion chair for six hours.

    I also had to deal with so many unexpected issues: disability and life insurance, pre-existing conditions, the lifetime and annual limits of health insurance policies, and coverage appeals. As a former insurance defense attorney, I was better equipped to handle these than the dozens of other young cancer patients I met, such as the single mom who lost her job at a gas station because of her treatment schedule, and the couple who lost their home because of crushing medical costs.

    Our baby had nearly six months of chemotherapy with me before his early arrival on July 14, 2007. Blake was born at a healthy 5 pounds, 9 ounces, and with a full head of hair – more than I had, at the time, because of the drugs! A week after his delivery, I returned to my aggressive chemotherapy schedule for another three months. After that came a bilateral mastectomy and a series of six reconstructive and prophylactic surgeries.

    When Blake was five months old, I returned to work. I felt as though I had left work on cancer’s terms, and I wanted to go back to work on my terms – and that meant as soon as possible, even though I still wore a wig, faced major surgeries, and had an infant at home.

    As part of my continuing education requirements for my license, I attended a cancer rights conference. Sitting there talking with 200 other attorneys, advocates, patients, and healthcare providers, I realized that I could become a cancer rights attorney, coupling my professional experience as a lawyer with my personal passion for helping others who struggle with cancer.

    Now I work as a cancer rights attorney at the Cancer Legal Resource Center and seize every opportunity to educate others by sharing my experience as a young breast cancer survivor. I also proudly serve as the Past-Chair of Public Policy Chair for the California Collaborative of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, as a member of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure National Public Policy Advisory Council and was recently appointed to the California Breast and Cervical Cancer Advisory Council for the State of California to help ensure underserved women have access to life-saving early detection services.

    Read other impact stories here.

  • Race for the Cure Recap (International Edition) – San Juan, Frankfurt, Bologna, Antwerp, Athens and Sarajevo

    Komen Races from around the globe helped kick off National Breast Cancer Awareness Month this past weekend. From Puerto Rico to Belgium, people gathered in their pink to celebrate survivors and Komen’s impact around the world.

    In San Juan, Puerto Rico, nearly 15,000 participants (a new record!), including 800 survivors, came out for the Race for the Cure at Coliseo de Puerto Rico, José Miguel Agrelot. The event, which experienced an astounding 15% increase in participation from last year, was featured by Spanish language outlet El Nuevo Dia.

    The 13th Komen Deutschland Race for the Cure in Frankfurt, Germany had more than 7,500 participants – 15% more than last year! 600 survivors joined the rest of the participants as they raced along the Main River. German outlet RTL Hessen and Runners World share highlights from the event.

    Komen Italia hosted the 6th Bologna Race for the Cure over the weekend, bringing together approximately 11,000 participants (including 500 survivors) for the event. Recent earthquakes did not slow down the people of Bologna, and Race participation grew by 10% compared last year. La Repubblica shares some great pictures from the event.

    In Antwerp, Belgium, Komen’s NGO Partner Think-Pink hosted the Race at Waalse Kaai and had nearly 5,000 participants – 34% growth over last year! Check out the Race video here, and see local news coverage from Het Nieuws and De Redactie.be.

    In Athens, Greece, economic issues did not stop more than 13,000 people showing up for the 4th Race for the Cure this past weekend!  This Race, hosted by Komen’s NGO partner, Alma Zois, experienced tremendous growth from 7,400 participants in 2011, and was featured by EPT WebTVCheck out a great Race video from the event shared by Alma Zois.

    And last, but certainly not least, the 5th Bosnia and Herzegovina Race for the Cure in Sarajevo, hosted by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s Women’s Health Empowerment Program, was a huge success as well! Approximately 6,300 people registered for the event, including 400 survivors, and participants from 29 cities attended the Race. Participants got pumped up the morning of the Race with some Zumba as part of the opening ceremony. U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Patrick Moon and his wife, Danuta Moon, who serves as Honorary Chair, addressed the crowd. The Race also had participation from several other Embassies including Great Britain, Japan, Pakistan, Brazil and more. You can see a video from this event here.

    Congratulations to all of our International Affiliates and NGOs who helped make these events so successful! Breast cancer can affect anyone in any country, and we are so happy to have the opportunity to raise awareness and share breast cancer information with people around the world.

  • 31 Days of Impact – Day 3, Donna Sanderson

    The story of breast cancer is the story of people. Learn about Komen’s impact and work in the fight against breast cancer as told through the eyes of breast cancer survivors, researchers, community health workers and advocates. Read more stories.

    DONNA SANDERSON, SACRAMENTO – Breast Cancer Survivor, Advocate

    “We work with people of all different cultures at the Sacramento Komen Affiliate. Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate – rich, poor, African American, or Caucasian – it’s pervasive.”

    “When dealing with breast cancer, everyone has their most difficult time. Mine was when I was done with treatment. During treatment, I had the attention of an entire team of health care providers – once it was over, that all went away.”

    “Our goal, when visiting developing nations, is to bring awareness and educate communities about the realities of breast cancer.”

    In the late 1950s, when I was a young girl, the word “breast” and the word “cancer” were taboo. People simply didn’t talk about cancer. My earliest memory of cancer was when my mother and sister were conversing next to the room my aunt was in. She had what they referred to as the “big C.” Today, with the efforts of organizations like Susan G. Komen for the Cure, we have made great strides towards bringing awareness to breast cancer – from the United States to countries like Uzbekistan and Tanzania.

    When I first started volunteering for Susan G. Komen for the Cure in 1997, I was 45 years old and, admittedly, didn’t know much about breast cancer. Two months later, I was diagnosed. There was a lump in my breast for a few years that was benign; at my scheduled yearly mammogram they discovered a second malignant cyst hiding behind that lump. I had a mastectomy, followed by treatment including chemotherapy. At the time, the Komen Sacramento Affiliate offered emotional support and referrals to support groups. Since then, the cause has been personal.

    Throughout my 15 years with the Komen Sacramento Affiliate, we have had many successes. One of my fondest memories was ten years ago when we started a mobile mammography unit – a unit that is still used today by St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Sacramento. I also led a state-wide collaborative among my fellow executive directors across California, a partnership that has resulted in state initiatives to advance breast health. Beyond the state of California, I’ve worked with Komen to make a difference in developing nations where, like in the U.S. in the 1950s, speaking about breast cancer is taboo.

    As the International Race Ambassador of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, I traveled to Tanzania in 2008 and Uzbekistan in 2012. In both countries people don’t talk about cancer. Even worse, cancer brings shame to a family and people believe that you bring it upon yourself. We were there to bring awareness and educate communities about the realities of breast cancer.

    In Uzbekistan, we started the first Race for the Cure in the capital of Tashkent, which drew more than 20,000 participants. We brought together government officials, Uzbek celebrities, public figures, ministers of health, and leaders of the Muslim and Christian faiths. We spoke about the state of breast cancer in their country and what could be done – and we planned to accomplish it with the funds raised.

    From Uzbekistan to here in Sacramento, volunteers, survivors, and staff form the “Komen family.” Once you are involved, you have friends for life – friends who are passionate about the same issue. My colleagues and I always say that you may go away for a while but you never really leave Komen. As a former retiree who still volunteers and is serving as an interim executive director as they find my successor, I’m a case in point.

    Read other impact stories here.

  • 31 Days of Impact – Day 2, Susan Sonley

    The story of breast cancer is the story of people. Learn about Komen’s impact and work in the fight against breast cancer as told through the eyes of breast cancer survivors, researchers, community health workers and advocates. Read more stories.

    SUSAN SONLEY, RESTON, VIRGINIA – Breast Cancer Survivor, Race for the Cure Top Fundraiser

    “I do my day job so that I can pursue my passion.”

    “It’s time to give back to this now. It’s time to do something.”

    “We have to keep our focus on the mission – and the mission is saving lives.”

    I was 40 years old when I beat breast cancer for the first time. It was 1994 and after undergoing multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation and emerging cancer-free, I knew it was time to rally behind a cause and fight for a cure. Susan G. Komen was well-known in Washington, D.C. and I needed to prove to myself that I was well again – that I was stronger for the experience, so I signed up to run their 5K. The feeling of accomplishment I had after completing that marathon only motivated me to do more to help women undergoing similar experiences. I knew it was time to give back to others facing breast cancer – it was time to  do something.

    I began an aggressive fundraising campaign by founding my own Komen Race team, Champions of the Cure, and then took my story to the public to raise even more funds.  I reached out to friends, family and business associates and told them that this is an exclusive club that no one wants to join, but once you’re in, it’s life-changing. I want to make sure that people know that there is always  someone who will  help and a place to go – and many times it starts with a call to me from a worried friend of a scared friend about a new diagnosis.

    In 2010, when my cancer returned, I was more determined than ever to not only survive, but to make an even bigger impact within the cancer community. Maintaining an optimistic outlook was crucial – I knew it was a good thing to have a new cancer, because that meant the old one had not returned after 16 years. That year, Champions for the Cure grew to more than 100 members, we raised over $105,000, a personal best, and I was given the honor of again being named as the top fundraiser for Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure for the ninth time out of the past 12 Races, raising more than twice what the second-place team raised.  It reminded me how many people want to help but don’t know what to do, so they donate generously when asked.

    Everyone knows someone who has been affected by breast cancer. I reach out to people’s need to help others facing breast cancer by sharing my personal story. Each year presents another opportunity to challenge myself and see how much more I can accomplish to impact the lives of women and men through my fundraising efforts. The funds I have raised over the years aid Susan G. Komen in its mission to provide breast health care to individuals who otherwise might not survive breast cancer. We’ve come a long way in 30 years following this vision. To date, Champions of the Cure has raised more than  $925,000 for Komen’s screening, treatment, education and research programs and this year the goal is to hit $1 million.

    As a two-time survivor (18 years now and counting) I know how hard it is to face a breast cancer diagnosis. I would not be alive today but for the work of Susan G. Komen, which has invested more money – more than $2 billion – to find the cures for breast cancers, more than any other organization in the world outside of the U.S. government.

    I’m fortunate to see the fruits of Komen’s work every day – in the treatments that have benefited me and in the programs that are helping low-income and uninsured women in our nation’s capital (which has the highest death rate from breast cancer in the country).

    Every Race I run raises funds that get real help to women and families right here in DC, and around the world.  Every Race I’ve participated in expands the community of supporters that believe as I do in the importance of Komen’s mission.   Very importantly, every dollar I raise goes towards finding a cure and saving lives. Our focus must remain on the mission: saving lives.

    Read other impact stories here.