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  • Our Grants in Mexico

    Guest post from Catherine Oliveros, Regional Director of International, Susan G. Komen for the Cure

    I find myself this week in Monterrey, Mexico – a city recovering from the destruction caused by hurricane Alex a couple years back and where the daily threat of criminal warfare is an ever present reality.  And yet the city is bustling with activity and growth – filled with American enterprise and resilient citizens, moving on with their lives and finding ways to make a difference.  I met yesterday with four amazing survivors from a small NGO called Unidas Contigo or United with You.  Unidas Contigo was started in 2003 by a group of breast cancer survivors , whose mission is to create opportunities for women so that women in their community are educated on breast self awareness and have access to resources available for prevention, diagnosis and treatment.  These beautiful women, one of which is scheduled to start a round of radiation tomorrow, sat around in a circle and shared stories of their families, their disease, and their community.  We laughed and then we cried, as the most recently diagnosed survivor shared how as a volunteer with the group she had just finished an education video on breast self awareness as part of a community project when two weeks later she was told she had breast cancer.  Despite her illness she has not slowed down and she continues to volunteer her time and energy to the education efforts of the group.  Inspirational.

    Today we announce the Caterpillar grantees at a press conference hosted at the School of  Medicine and Health Sciences ITESM and later we will host a roundtable where the Minister of Health from Nuevo Leon will be part of the discussion on the state of breast cancer in Monterrey.  We will be joined by our friends from Caterpillar Mexico and expect to have a wonderful dialogue that will set the stage for the work we will pursue in the next couple of years.

    Stay tuned – I will be reporting on today’s events soon.

  • Reflections on Panama


    Guest post by Catherine Oliveros, Regional Director of International, Susan G. Komen for the Cure

    Looking back at the exciting events of last week, I can’t help but feel exhilarated and exhausted all at the same time.  What a week!  We visited three amazing non-government organizations (NGOs) and learned firsthand how they are making a difference for women in Panama.  And the big news of the week was that we were able to provide all three organizations with additional funds, thanks to the Caterpillar Foundation, to help them expand their work and increase their impact.

    Casita de Mausi, who you read about in my first post, offers temporary housing to low-income women who must travel hours and long distances for screening, follow-up care or treatment at the Cancer Center in Panama City.  Thanks to the support from Komen, Casita is opening up 5 beds a month for these women who otherwise would not get the proper follow-up care.  The home has been working with cancer patients for 15 years and has undergone several expansion projects to accommodate the growing need.  Now, it has capacity for up to 30 patients at one time.  Additionally, Casita will now be able to provide Breast Self-Awareness sessions monthly for residents to teach all residents on the importance of screening and specifically, the important of breast self awareness.

    Asociacion Nacional Contra el Cancer or ANCEC has clinics throughout Panama and provides breast and cervical cancer screenings, as well as community education programs.  With CAT funds, ANCEC will now be able to reach more people with messages about the importance of early detection by implementing a new awareness campaign during family friendly sporting events.  Additionally, they will be providing workshops targeting health care providers – physicians, nurses and students – on such topics as the latest breast cancer research, guidelines and best practices in clinical care, as well as new technology in breast cancer and psycho-oncology.

    Our third grant went to FundaAyuda, a leader in breast cancer awareness, to help them expand their work and by launching an intense year-long media campaign, that incorporates traditional as well as social media.  As the founder of FundaAyuda says, women don’t just get cancer in October.  What an amazing group!

    I love my work, because I get to learn everyday from amazing organizations and individuals on a global scale.  I am currently back in Dallas, but not for long.  Later this month we will be announcing another set of Caterpillar grantees in Monterrey, Mexico.  I get to once again spend time with passionate people who are making a difference in their communities.  And as partners, they are helping us expand our global reach.  We will be sure to send you updates from Mexico, as I am sure we will have plenty of stories to share from there as well!


  • Making an Impact in Panama: New Grants Announced

    Guest post by Catherine Oliveros, Regional Director of International, Susan G. Komen for the Cure

    The culmination of our trip to Panama was a special dinner reception where we unveiled $250,000 in new investments in the country.  The grants are the first of a three-year $2 million partnership with the Caterpillar Foundation to increase breast cancer awareness and improve screening and early detection outcomes in low-resource communities in Latin America.  Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death among women in Panama.

    We were also honored to be joined at the dinner by the First Lady of Panama, Marta de Martinelli, who discussed how proud she was of the work happening in Panama and thanked Komen and Caterpillar for our commitment to the country. Our President Elizabeth Thompson provided an overview of our work in the area, as well as the rest of Latin America, and noted that this announcement came on the anniversary of Suzie’s death.  Carlos Caetano, representing our friends from Caterpillar highlighted the importance of our partnership and how meaningful this work was to Caterpillar.

    The new grants were awarded to local NGOs Fundacian Casita de Mausi, FundAyuda and Association National Contra el Cancer, and will support public education campaigns, breast self-awareness training, training for medical practitioners and infrastructure improvements, with the goal of increasing screening rates and ultimately, saving lives.


  • Making an Impact in Panama: Day 2

    Panama Day 2 - Roundtable

    Guest post by Catherine Oliveros, Regional Director of International, Susan G. Komen for the Cure

    Our visit to Panama continues to help us better understand the challenges they face throughout the continuum of care.  The conversations we are having with local experts this week will help inform the direction Susan G. Komen must take to support education and awareness programs in this country through our grants, research and advocacy initiatives.

    On Day 2 we convened local government officials, private institutions and non-government organizations for a series of roundtables to talk about the state of breast cancer in Panama.  Our first discussion centered on the specific difficulties of addressing awareness, prevention and treatment of breast cancer in Panama.  We had a great open discussion about the challenges, as well as the current efforts underway in the country.  Participants set the stage for future partnerships and laid the groundwork for Komen to lead the work necessary to engage in advocacy at the local level in order to drive change nationally.

    Another highlight of the day was when our president, Elizabeth Thompson, was interviewed by the Panamanian newspaper La Prensa.  Liz was asked how she leveraged her background and experience in science and communications to lead the world’s largest grassroots organization working to decrease breast cancer mortality on a global scale.  She also discussed how Komen is attempting to make an impact on the disease through our research and our global strategy, including the success of the Global Initiative for Breast Cancer Awareness in Panama.

    Following the roundtable, we held a celebration luncheon for our newest partners in the region – more on that later.  This provided an opportunity for everyone to network, learn about what we have planned in Panama in the next year.  The luncheon also provided an informal venue for Komen to orientate grantees on policies and procedures, monitoring and evaluation and technical assistance opportunities.

    This has been a great trip so far, and we look forward to sharing our big news soon.

    Catherine Oliveros
    Regional Director of International


  • A Bittersweet Day

    Suzy and Nancy G. BrinkerToday, August 4th, is the one day of the year that I celebrate and mourn. This is the day Suzy died in my mother’s arms thirty-one years ago. When I reflect on the depth and breadth of the work the Susan G. Komen organization and our extended family have accomplished each and every day since that time, I am overcome with pride and celebration of the lives we have saved together.  The grief and loneliness from the untimely death of a loved one is hard for all of us to live through, but I am comforted that our collective efforts have made an incredible difference in the lives of so many.

    I want to thank everyone in the Komen family for the passion, the love and the hard work that you have poured into our mission. We have the boldest community of survivors and supporters that year after year have helped us make a big impact on the lives of others.  I cannot help but believe that Suzy would be so proud that her name still sits atop our incredible organization and so happy her life and the promise she asked me to make is shared by so many.