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  • On the Passing of Evelyn Lauder, founder of The Breast Cancer Research Foundation

    The entire Komen community mourns the passing of Evelyn H. Lauder, a tireless fellow torch-bearer and a true pioneer in the fight to end breast cancer. For so many years, Mrs. Lauder’s Breast Cancer Research Foundation has championed important and meaningful research in the battle against the disease. Her valiant and courageous crusade was the cause of her lifetime. Evelyn Lauder leaves an inimitable  legacy of hope and progress in this war that all of us will continue to fight so vigorously and with such determination.

  • Strategic Meeting for Breast Cancer Advocacy in the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil

    On October 18, 2011, Susan G. Komen for the Cure hosted a strategic meeting in the State of Sao Paulo that brought together community advocates to address prevailing breast cancer challenges in the region.

    The roundtable included experts, healthcare professionals, and NGO and government representatives from the state. This is the first of several meetings focused on identifying and reducing the challenges that result in the lack of proper access to prevention and treatment services for citizens at all levels of the healthcare system. Recently, Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s President announced a commitment of R$4.5 billion reais (roughly $2.8 billion dollars) to the improvement of the country’s health services. Interestingly, the commitment was not in support of all chronic diseases, but specifically towards the fight against cancer. Needless to say, the subject is very timely as cancer advocates throughout the country begin to mobilize and strategize.

    Many people don’t realize, but Brazil is an expansive country with communities and regions that vastly differ from its north to south tips. As Dr. Carlos Ruiz, President of the Brazilian Mastology Society aptly put it, “this is the Brazil of many Brazils”. In a country that faces on average 50,000 new cases of breast cancer each year, unfortunately in states like Sao Paulo women still struggle to get adequate preventive and treatment services. Most unfortunate is the fact that mortality rates continue to grow.

    While it may be easy to attribute some of these statistics to less than adequate healthcare services, the roundtable focused on what can be done now. Participants suggested that mammography in Brazil is available for the most part. However, much education and training is still very much needed to ensure the accuracy and reliability of exams. Additionally, the diagnosis and treatment cycle is often delayed creating a less than favorable situation for women in need of immediate care. Over the next few months, the Global Initiative Team will identify specific focus areas for action teams in the state of Sao Paulo. A follow-up meeting is expected to take place in early 2012.

    Since 2007, the Global Initiative for Breast Cancer Awareness has been active in Brazil providing grants to strengthen awareness programs at the community level. In addition to community grants, advocacy meetings such as this one have become more and more important in linking Komen to the country’s cancer network. Stay tuned.

    Read more about our work in South America here.

  • 2011 Honoring the Promise Recap

    Honoring the PromiseCelebrities, government leaders, scientists, advocates and breast cancer leaders gathered in glorious surroundings in Washington for Susan G. Komen for the Cure’’s second annual Honoring the Promise gala, which raises funds for breast cancer research and programs while honoring the leaders of the breast cancer movement.

    Over 1,000 people filled the Eisenhower Theatre inside the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for a night of uplifting performances and moving speeches that served to remind those of the importance in continuing their support in the fight against breast cancer.

    NBC TODAY Show co-host and breast cancer survivor Hoda Kotb emceed the program which featured performances by singer Natasha Bedingfield —singing acoustic versions of her hit songs “Pocket Full of Sunshine” and “Unwritten” — Grammy Award-winning violinist Miri Ben-Ari, opera singer Denyce Graves-Montgomery, aerial artist Amanda Topaz and the vocal jazz ensemble Afro Blue from Howard University.

    Nancy G. Brinker at the podiumRounding out the program were Hollywood stars Kerry Washington–wearing a lady-like pink and black Marc Jacobs dress– Donald Faison and fiancé CaCee Cobb, Jennifer Beals and breast cancer survivor Vanessa Bell Calloway. They joined friends of Komen from inside the Beltway – MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, FedEx Corporation’s Gina Adams, Danaher Corporation’s William H. King and philanthropist Annie Totah.

    Co-founded by Kennedy Center Chairman David Rubenstein and held in the Eisenhower Center for the Performing Arts at the Kennedy Center, the Honoring the Promise event included a Lifetime Achievement Award to former First Lady Betty Ford, whose courage in disclosing her breast cancer diagnosis in 1974 opened the national conversation about the leading cancer killer of women worldwide.  Komen founder and CEO Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker presented the award to Mrs. Ford’s daughter, Susan Bales.

    In September 1974, a wife and mother confronted four words that had shattered women’s lives for decades:  ‘I have breast cancer.’” Ford Bales began her tear-filled speech. “That woman was my mom; That woman was First Lady of the United States;  That woman was Betty Ford. Komen presented Awards of Distinction in four additional categories.

      • For Scientific and Medical achievement -– Charles M. Perou, Ph.D., head of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Lineberger Cancer Center and recognized for his work identifying subtypes of breast cancer;
      • For Advocacy -  Ellen V. Sigal, Ph.D. for her work to accelerate cancer research and public policy, as chair and founder of the Friends of Cancer research organization in D.C.;
      • For Community – Sandra M. Swain, M.D., medical director of the Washington Cancer Institute, and project director of the Breaking Down Barriers program to reach medically underserved women in the National Capitol Area, and
      • Global Leadership – Sarah Brown, wife of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, for her work for women and children.

    The collective achievements of these honorees have significantly improved our understanding of breast cancer, identified new treatments, and built a global community looking out for the needs of women and men facing breast cancer,” Brinker said. Brinker founded Susan G. Komen for the Cure in 1982, after promising her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would do everything in her power to end the disease.

    Since then, Komen has grown to become the largest breast cancer organization, funding more research than any other breast cancer non-profit ($685 million to date), and another $1.3 billion to community outreach programs. This includes $20 million to programs in the National Capital Area.

    We’’d like to thank everyone who made tonight’s event a success, starting with David Rubenstein and his wife Alice for serving as founding chairs for the event alongside honorary chairs the Ambassador of the State of Kuwait and Mrs. Salem Al-Sabah, Senator Scott Brown and Gail Huff, Representative John Dingell, the Honorable and Mrs. John Engler and Senator Joseph Lieberman.

    Andrea Mitchell, Hoda Kotb, Jennifer Griffin, and Deborah Charles
    From L to R: Andrea Mitchell, Hoda Kotb, Jennifer Griffin, and Deborah Charles

    The evening gala was co-chaired by Jane and Spencer Abraham, Deborah Dingell, Ginger and Stuart Pape, Hadassah Lieberman, Marlene and Fred Malek, Susanna and Jack Quinn, Anne and John D. Raffaelli, Vanessa and Thomas Reed, Vicki and Roger Sant, Linda and Acie Vickers and Young Professionals Chairs John Pearson III, Kiki Ryan and Ashley Taylor.

    A special reception before the gala honored women Kotb with the Rebecca Lipkin Award of Media Distinction, named for the ABC News producer who died of breast cancer in 2009. Read our recap of the Women In Media event here and Hoda Kotb’s award here.

    More pictures to come soon!

  • 2011 Honoring the Promise Gala – Women In Media

    Hoda KotbYesterday was our Honoring the Promise gala in Washington, D.C., where Susan G. Komen honors the people who have made huge impacts on breast cancer.  It’s a great and meaningful evening, with awards being presented to scientists, community advocates, survivors and global dignitaries who have advanced the cause of women’s health, specifically to spread awareness or make an impact for women and men facing this disease.  We’ll have more on the full program in a later blog but we wanted to take a minute to tell you about a special event that we’ve held for the last two years, honoring women in media that have shared their stories and motivated other women to take action for their breast health.

    The award itself has a bittersweet story behind it.  The Rebecca Lipkin Women of Media Distinction Award is named in memory of Rebecca Lipkin, a television producer for ABC News and Al-Jazeera who was well-known and well-loved. She died of inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) in 2009, just 49 years old.  When she was diagnosed with IBC (which is a very rare but aggressive form of breast cancer), she set out to tell others about it. Her family picked up that ball after her death, establishing the Rebecca Lipkin Fund in conjunction with Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  The family also wanted to honor the female journalists/breast cancer survivors who are making an impact on breast cancer awareness, and established the Media Distinction Award in 2010.

    Last night, survivor Jennifer Griffin of Fox News presented the 2011 Media Distinction Award to Hoda Kotb of NBC’s TODAY show. Hoda was diagnosed with breast cancer in February of 2007.  At first, she didn’t want to discuss it publicly, but did reveal it in an interview with Ann Curry, saying “I’m hoping that me telling about my journey and the kind of hell I went through will help somebody at home who thinks ‘Oh God, I’m by myself’ or ‘Oh no, there’s just me.’ Because it’s not just you. It’s never just you. You know, there’s a whole bunch of us out there.”

    Hoda has shared her story in newscasts, on the lecture circuit and with frequent appearances at Susan G. Komen for the Cure Races around the country.  We were just delighted to honor her at this ceremony tonight. We all owe Hoda our thanks for all that she has done to let women know they are indeed not alone – they’re part of a global family.

    A special thanks, too, to Jennifer Griffin and all the members of the Women in Media committee:

    • Deborah Charles of Reuters
    • Jill Dougherty from CNN
    • Robin Roberts from ABC
    • Andrea Roane of WUSA TV, Washington, DC
    • Laura Ingraham of “The Laura Ingraham Show”And
    • Andrea Mitchell and Anne Thompson from NBC

    A few pictures from the event are in the slideshow below.

  • Sao Paulo, Brazil – Caterpillar Grants Announced

    Guest post from Catherine Oliveros, MPH, DrPH, Susan G. Komen Komen Regional Director, International

    Jerson Dotti
    Above: Jerson Dotti shares a personal family experience with cancer.

    What a year!  Is it any wonder that I love my work?  I have had the pleasure of visiting three amazing Latin American countries, spending  time with our fabulous in-country teams, seeing the passion and dedication of our global partners all while announcing Komen’s amazing partnership with the Caterpillar Foundation.  The last of our first year events occurred last week in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  On Thursday, Oct. 20, we proudly announced the 2011 Brazil Caterpillar grantees.  The event featured Dr. Elaine Abissamra, a federal representative from Brasilia and Jerson Dotti, a dynamic representative from the Caterpillar Foundation Brazil.  This event was unique in that we were able to engage our newly announced Course for the Cure™ grantees as well – so in total we had five organizations receiving support through Komen on projects focused on increasing awareness and access to mammography services for women in Sao Paulo.


    M'Boi Mirim Hospital
    Above: M’Boi Mirim Hospital in Pink.

    The first Caterpillar award went to Sociedade Isrealita Beneficaria Albert Einstein Hospital.  Einstein’s goals are twofold:  To increase awareness about breast cancer and resources among the general population taking advantage of the fact that in Brazil the internet is a highly effective way to reach people from all backgrounds.  Einstein is developing a website that will inform and engage – using twitter and facebook as tools to disseminate credible, breast self awareness information.  The second component of the Einstein project is centered on Hospital M’Boi Mirim, a public hospital serving low income communities.  Einstein illuminated the public hospital pink as a way to raise awareness among its constituents who are not as aware about breast cancer as other communities.  Additionally, the project will include outreach and educational activities through booths that will be strategically placed in the community and will offer trained community health workers a place to engage and educate the general population.  Training for community health workers is also part of the Caterpillar funded project, and these trainers will act as multipliers in the community as they go beyond the booths and disseminate Komen messaging to others and support women in accessing services in their community.

    Caterpillar and Susan G. Komen Grantees
    Above: Caterpillar and Komen representatives pictured with Caterpillar and Komen Global Initiative Community Grantees.

    The second Caterpillar grantee developed their program after working with the creators of the “De Peito Aberto” (“Open Heart, the self-esteem of women with breast cancer”) photo project – Fundo Infinito.  Recognizing the campaign’s potential reach to women in Sao Paulo, Instituto Mimboe aimed to mobilize and amplify the reach of the awareness-raising exhibit.  The Caterpillar-funded project will talk about breast cancer through photo exhibits that raise awareness, demystify the disease and invites observers to understand the experience of a cancer survivor and her family.  These exhibits are supplemented with a personal education component where participants are engaged in conversation about breast cancer, resources available and the importance of early detection by trained lay health educators.  The campaign will be exhibited in shopping malls in specific zones of São Paulo (southern/eastern and northern), targeting lower income populations and women from all age groups.  Media exposure will also be a key mechanism used to disseminate information on the importance of early detection and provide information on access and services available to the target populations.

    We were excited to see the energy and enthusiasm of women in Brazil and throughout Latin America for the breast cancer mission!