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  • Inaugural Susan G. Komen Ghana Race for the Cure

    What an amazing day we had yesterday! More than 11,000 Ghanaian runners and walkers took to the streets at the inaugural Susan G. Komen Ghana Race for the Cure in Kumasi yesterday to tell the country and the world that Ghana will not tolerate its women dying from breast cancer.  Young, old, mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, daughters and sons – they all came to walk and support a cause that has touched so many of their lives.  Our partnership with Dr. Beatrice Wiafe-Addai and Breast Care International brought the Race to Ghana and there is no doubt that it is here to stay.

    We were delighted that Ghana’s Vice President Dramani Mahama postponed a trip to participate at the Race and talk to the crowd about breast awareness and early detection. The most unforgettable moment of the morning came when the breast cancer survivors received a standing ovation from the crowd as they marched into Baba Yara stadium.  The festivities continued from there, ending with performances from Ghanaian and Nigerian gospel music stars that had the crowd on their feet dancing and singing.

    The Ghana Race has made its mark in West Africa and we are so honored to have been a part of this historic day!

  • Komen’s In Ghana

    We’re in Africa, kicking off the first official Susan G. Komen Ghana Race for the Cure on Wednesday (May 25).  Ghana is one of seven African countries where Komen partners to educate, screen and help reduce mortality rates from breast cancer (with $462,000 in grants to Ghana along).  Our Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Katrina McGhee is a Ghana veteran and files this report:

    It’s my fourth trip to Ghana and something is different. The people are still wonderful, the air is still hot and humid, and yes unfortunately the Mosquitos still serve on the welcoming committee. But this time I can feel the winds of change. It’s like a subtle breeze carried by the quiet resolve of women fueled by hope and determination.

    Three years ago when I first came to Ghana with Dr. Riccardo Masetti to represent Komen I was so enthusiastic, so fired up to help save women from breast cancer. I fell in love with the people and the place. My naive exuberance quickly met with the harsh realities that this would be a journey not a sprint. Young women were dying at alarming rates. The lack of awareness, resources, and infrastructure coupled with the poverty and long held myths were quite frankly daunting. How could we even begin to make a difference?

    The answer was through partnership and perseverance. Forming an Alliance with NGO throughout the country, we slowly established a network of friends that would help guide our work. They are my heroes. People like Dr. Wiafe who work tirelessly to raise awareness, dispel myths, remove stigmas, and inspire women to act. It is no easy task and in truth can be frustratingly slow.

    But the boldness of three women on last evening renewed my hope that we can win this battle. They were all at work – a hotel clerk, a waitress, and a cook. Each one upon seeing Dr. Wiafe declared “I need you to examine my breasts before you leave.” Wow! Can you imagine? Just a few short years ago no one would have been talking about this in public. Not many would have cared.

    So is the transformational nature of Komen’s work. Inspiring the world with a vision of what could be, helping to map out the journey, and providing the fuel to get there. Together, we are Susan G. Komen. We will end breast cancer. In Ghana and around the world.

     

  • 2011 Komen Italia Race for the Cure

    The Rome Race is one of 19 international Races raising funds and awareness for breast cancer, including our very first Susan G. Komen Ghana Race for the Cure in Kumasi on May 26, where we expect more than 14,000 walkers and runners!

    These Races are a great way to help spread understanding and awareness. They were started almost 30 years ago in Dallas as a way to celebrate breast cancer survivors and also to break the silence around the disease – at the time, there was still a significant stigma around breast cancer in the United States.  Over time, these Races have grown to include more than 1.6 (or is it 1.7) million  runners and walkers, in more than 140 cities, helping to raise funds and bring people together for this cause.  They also serve to give women a voice in countries where stigma, shame and isolation around breast cancer still exist.

    Check out photos from the event in our Flickr slideshow below.

  • Women’s Health Empowerment Project (WHEP) – Day 3 Recap

    WHEP Conference ParticipantsSince 2004, we have been working with American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee on the Women’s Health Empowerment Project to develop and build breast cancer awareness programs in Russia. WHEP is an innovative overseas public education movement that encourages the early detection of breast cancer. The program is currently active in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Montenegro and Russia. WHEP is presenting results of its four years of work in Russia and upcoming programs aimed at reducing mortality rates from breast cancer – a disease that kills 25,000 women in Russia each year. Our own Susan Brown and Ana Teasdale will be blogging from the conference itself, but did want to share some local color.

    We did it!  We met breast cancer survivors, physicians and representatives from local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) just as we hoped we would. We want to thank Academician Sukhih Gennadiy Tihonovich, Academician Adomyan Layla Vladimirovna, Academician Rozhkova Nadezhda Ivanovna and Professor Prilepskaya Vera Nickolayevna for their contributions that made this conference a success for more than 200 people in attendance.   We are very happy to be expressing our gratitude to them in writing rather than verbally and thus avoiding a possible international incident by mispronouncing their names.

    Medical experts from leading institutions in Moscow opened the Third National Women’s Health Conference with presentations to illustrate the state of breast and cervical cancers in Russia, existing challenges, and possible solutions. Speakers from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the United States shared their unique experiences, all focused on raising awareness and early detection. Komen’s contribution was acknowledged by several speakers including a breast cancer survivor from Tver. As invited speakers, we shared the inspiring Komen story and described Komen’s many and varied programs aimed at raising awareness and early detection around the world.

    It felt like a long, full day and then we realized it had been a long full day because even though it was still light outside, it was 10pm.

    Note about photo: This photo was taken by renowned Vladimir Bashta, the husband of Katya Bashta, JDC/Russia WHEP director, who was recently awarded the Russian version of the Oscar for cinematography.  We have requested that he accompany us for the rest of the trip with his camera.  Check photos on the previous two blogs to see why.

    WHEP Conference JDC Komen Team

  • Women’s Health Empowerment Project (WHEP) – Day 2 Recap

    Since 2004, we have been working with American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee on the Women’s Health Empowerment Project to develop and build breast cancer awareness programs in Russia. WHEP is an innovative overseas public education movement that encourages the early detection of breast cancer. The program is currently active in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Montenegro and Russia. WHEP is presenting results of its four years of work in Russia and upcoming programs aimed at reducing mortality rates from breast cancer – a disease that kills 25,000 women in Russia each year. Our own Susan Brown and Ana Teasdale will be blogging from the conference itself, but did want to share some local color.

    In order to prepare for the conference and really get to know local customs and culture, we set out to find authentic local Russian food.  Our hosts took us to Pavilion at Patriarshy, an authentic Russian restaurant with pictures and music from the Soviet era.  After sampling borscht with duck breast, piroshkies with cabbage, chicken, or meat, and vareniki with sour cherries we felt ready to start the conference where we hope to meet breast cancer survivors, physicians, and representatives from local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

    This conference, the Third National Conference on Women’s Health, was organized by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and Susan G. Komen for the Cure®. JDC and Komen for the Cure have been supporting the Women’s Health Empowerment Program (WHEP) in Russia since 2007. This program established 14 peer support groups with more than 500 active participants, trains doctors on preventing professional burnout, and conducts educational outreach programs.

    As we were getting ready to leave the restaurant and return to the hotel, we were shocked to learn that our food was not actually considered authentic Russian, but rather Ukrainian!  So, the quest for authentic Russian food continues.