The 2013 Komen Race for the Cure season is off to a roaring start! While some of us were resolving to get rid of a few of those holiday pounds, these women and men were hitting the track under the warm coastal sun for this year’s first three Race events.
On a beautiful January morning in Nassau, nearly 2,000 registrants gathered for the 3rd annual Bahamas Race for the Cure and other Race events benefiting Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Tribune242 (here as well) covered the popular event.
Just a few miles across the ocean, the Komen Florida Suncoast Affiliate’s Polk Race for the Cure took place at Tiger Stadium in Lakeland, FL. Hundreds of individuals rocked pink shirts and pom poms to support their local Affiliate. A local group, the Lakeland Shooters, also shared some great photos from the inspirational event.
Downtown West Palm Beach was positively pink on Jan. 26, for the 22nd Annual Susan G. Komen South Florida Race for the Cure. An estimated 20,000 participants, volunteers, and supporters joined Komen founder and CEO Nancy G. Brinker to support the South Florida Affiliate’s community initiatives and Komen’s national breast cancer research. Palm Beach Daily News and WPBF feature the event, and Palm Beach Post shares some moving photos and stories from those in attendance.
We can’t wait to share more stories like these with you from all of our exciting Races throughout the year. And with 120 Affiliates around the country, there’s probably a Race coming your way, so check our website to find out how you can join in the fun and stay tuned for more Race recaps!
Tracy Bunch, Ashburn, VA – Survivor
“The phone rang and it was my doctor saying, ‘I’m so sorry but you have breast cancer.’ At 38 years of age with no family history or even the knowledge of any other person in my life who had been diagnosed, I felt lost, confused and very frightened.”
“So today, I also hope to be a beacon of hope by educating women about triple negative breast cancer, which is an aggressive form of breast cancer that strikes just 15 percent of women diagnosed with the disease.”
My name is Tracy Bunch and I am a 12-year triple negative breast cancer survivor. It was in the spring of 1998 that I first became acquainted with Susan G. Komen for the Cure. I was president of my local graduate sorority chapter, Lambda Kappa Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and we were in search of a great volunteer opportunity. We decided to join with the Komen Race for the Cure by helping with race pre-registration at the local Whole Foods store and then walking as a team the day of the event. At the walk I was overwhelmed by the large number of people who were there to support, encourage and remember loved ones who had won and lost the battle against breast cancer. I remember thinking if I ever got cancer this would be the type of organization that I would want on my side.
Move forward to December 21, 2001. The phone rang and it was my doctor saying, “I’m so sorry but you have breast cancer.” At 38 years of age with no family history or even the knowledge of any other person in my life who had been diagnosed, I felt lost, confused and very frightened. I turned immediately to the Komen website for information about breast cancer. The website helped me to better understand the disease and became a great resource as I moved through my surgery, chemo and radiation. I was able to learn about the drugs that I was given and how to manage the side effects that I experienced.
So today, I also hope to be a beacon of hope by educating women about triple negative breast cancer - an aggressive form of breast cancer that strikes just 15 percent of women diagnosed with the disease. It is more prevalent in women of African descent, and also in women under 40. I do this through my involvement with the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation, an organization devoted entirely to supporting the triple negative breast cancer community through programs and research investment.
I am so pleased that the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation has partnered with Komen to co-fund a Promise Grant supporting a research project to develop new targeted therapies to treat triple negative breast cancer. In fact, Komen has spent more than $90 million in research to find treatments for triple negative breast cancer, but the support goes further – to programs that educate and help women, like me, who need help through their diagnosis. Komen is also helping to raise awareness of triple negative disease, and – as a Champion for the TNBC Foundation’s inaugural Triple Negative Breast Cancer Awareness Day on 3.3.13 – this is something that is important to me and further demonstrates Komen’s desire to do what is necessary to help the women it serves.
Flash back to 2012. I walked again in the Komen Race for the Cure, but this time as a survivor, and it was my most memorable Komen moment. It was a rainy day, but it did not stop the spirit of hope that I felt on that day. I wore my pink shirt with pride as I walked with my “sisters” and thousands of others touched by this disease. I remember the feeling of fellowship, pride and gratitude for the Komen organization, for being that beacon of hope for so many women just like me.
The work that Komen does truly makes a difference in the lives of families touched by this disease. May God continue to bless this organization as they lead the way to the Cure.
Learn more about Tracy’s disease:
Visit the TNBC Foundation website and learn about the inaugural Triple Negative Breast Cancer Day on 3.3.13.
Spoiler alert: DVR-users beware! This post contains spoilers from Tuesday’s episode of “Parenthood.”
Over the past season we have watched Kristina Braverman on “Parenthood” as she navigated the struggles of HER2-positive breast cancer.
In an extremely poignant performance, Monica Potter invited us in, to share in Kristina’s struggles. We were there as Kristina chose a doctor, went through chemo, lost her hair, tried (and ultimately decided against) wearing a wig, and dealt with social issues. We saw her facing the needs of family members who were loving and well-intentioned but could come across as overbearing.
On this week’s episode we, with millions of others, breathed a sigh of relief when, after a post-chemotherapy PET scan, she heard the words “Kristina, you are cancer-free” from her doctor. The radiant look on her face was achingly joyful; it didn’t matter that her doctor told her that she would need to come back for a mammogram in three months and wouldn’t be considered “cured” until after five years. It was a moment of hope.
Our hope is that one day each and every breast cancer survivor will be able to hear the words “cancer-free” – and we’re fighting every day to put an end to this disease. As “Parenthood” beautifully showed, breast cancer isn’t easy. It’s a disease that impacts the lives of those diagnosed and the ones who are trying to support them. But you don’t have to do it alone. We want to help. We hope you will check out our resources to help you understand breast cancer, view resources, and learn about types of support for you and your family and friends. For help in your community, please find a local Affiliate.
Andrea Wesley, Loxahatchee, FL - Survivor, Advocate
“Before I could even secure a job and health insurance I was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time!”
“Some people with insurance don’t have their testing, physician consults and treatments organized and started within such a short time-frame after diagnosis, but because of my Komen Angel, Delmarie, I was expeditiously and efficiently navigated through the healthcare system.”
In 2007, when I was 37 years old and still living in Jamaica, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was devastated! My only experience with breast cancer had been when I watched a close family friend, who had been diagnosed 10 years before, slowly die from the disease. She was living with our family at the time, and I would hear her cry out to God for help every night, her body racked with pain. Before her death, there were many nights that I cried and prayed with her, and I have to be honest – I also prayed that God would spare me from ever having to go through what Miss Pearl was going through!
So when I received the news that I too had breast cancer, I envisioned myself wasting away and dying a very painful death! Luckily, unlike Miss Pearl, I had health insurance so I received treatment for my breast cancer. I had a mastectomy, chemotherapy and a year later, reconstruction. After all of my treatment was complete, my nine-year-old daughter Alexia and I were so excited that our challenging and scary time with cancer was FINALLY behind us! We celebrated, determined to never look back!
Fast forward to 2011. I’m now the ripe old age of 41. I’ve just moved to the United States, excited to continue my career as a police officer. Before I could even secure a job and health insurance I was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time! Immediately visions of my friend and her tragic death floated before my eyes!!! This time, like poor Miss Pearl, I had no health insurance so it seemed very likely to me that I would follow in her sad footsteps. My sister Alma and I called every hospital, clinic, society, organization, church, and doctor’s office that we could think of, asking for help. Each time we were told that nothing could be done for someone without health insurance. We felt so helpless and hopeless, and had just about given up when a doctor’s office called back and gave me the name of a Komen South Florida Affiliate-funded Breast Health Navigator at Bethesda Women’s Health Center. I really didn’t expect for Delmarie Butler to call us back, and even if she did, I figured, it would be more of the same, “I’m sorry but…”
Delmarie Butler did call back and patiently listened to my story. She set up a meeting for us on the following business day which was a Monday – that was the longest weekend of my life! Miracle Monday is when I heard the FANTASTIC news that I would receive help for my treatment through Komen South Florida Affiliate grant funding. I couldn’t believe my ears and could barely contain my excitement – I was being given a third chance at life despite my lack of health insurance! Within that week Delmarie had set it up for me to have lab work, a bilateral breast MRI, CT scan of the chest and brain, a PET scan, genetic testing, and a consult with a world-renowned Medical Oncologist, Dr. Elisabeth McKeen.
The following week I consulted with Dr. Sonali Pandya, a breast surgeon and Dr. Vinay Sharma, a radiation oncologist and after they all conferred, my individualized treatment was started – all within three weeks of me having first heard the beautiful and powerful name, Susan G. Komen! Some people with insurance don’t have their testing, physician consults and treatments organized and started within such a short time-frame after diagnosis, but because of my Komen Angel, Delmarie, I was expeditiously and efficiently navigated through the health care system.
Here is the bottom line… you all don’t know it, but EVEN THOUGH YOU DON’T KNOW ME, YOU SAVED MY LIFE, and for that I am truly, forever in your debt! It is because of the generosity of people like you that I have the opportunity to raise my daughter, who is now 12 years old. I will be able to celebrate at her high school and college graduations. Because of YOU I will be able dance at my baby’s wedding and then hold her babies when God blesses her with them. You don’t know me, but by supporting the South Florida Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, you have given me the precious and priceless gift of life, and time with my daughter! For this all I can say is a sincere and heartfelt thank you, and I beg you to continue to stand with Komen so that other women like me have a chance at life!
Susan G. Komen for the Cure kicked-off the new year with a series of event in Palm Beach that raised money for and drew attention to the fight against breast cancer.
On Friday evening, local leaders and residents of West Palm Beach and Palm Beach turned out to once again light the Royal Palm Beach Bridge pink.
As the sun set, survivor Andrea Wesley talked about how Susan G. Komen helped in her struggle with the disease. After being turned down by numerous health care providers, Wesley’s sister learned of one of the 23 Komen programs in the area, in turn, linked her with a health care navigator who provided support and guidance from Wesley’s diagnosis through treatment and to survivorship.
“You don’t know me, but what you do for this foundation saved my life,” Wesley told the crowd, which included both West Palm Beach mayor Jeri Muoio and Palm Beach mayor Gail Coniglio.
Komen founder and CEO Nancy Brinker then joined Wesley and Komen South Florida President Penny Westberry to give a visual embodiment of Wesley’s feeling of hope—with the pink lighting of the bridge. The bridge will remain lit through the end of the month, when Komen South Florida holds its annual Komen Race for the Cure on January 26 in downtown West Palm Beach.
Following Friday’s festivities, on Saturday, Komen held its third annual Perfect Pink Party, at the beautiful Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach. The sold-out dinner raised $1.2 million dollars that will go to serve local, underserved women in the new year.
Attendees to the event included Mar-a-Lago owner, Donald Trump, Gov. Rick Scott and his wife Anne Scott, Congressmembers Patrick Murphy and Lois Frankel and Nancy G. Brinker.
In addition to the event raising funds to help women in Martin, St. Lucie and Palm Beach counties, some of the money raised at the evening event went to strengthen a budding partnership with the Bahamas, a country that has among the highest mortality rate from breast cancer in the world.