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  • 2011 Tanzania Race for the Cure

    Chris Bennett of Komen’s International team joined Komen Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Katrina McGhee to the 2011 Tanzania Race for the Cure® Oct. 23 in Dar es Salaam.  Bennett shares his personal view of the Race, and Komen’s partnership.

    Tanzania Race for the Cure
    More than 2,000 people raced in Dar es Salaam Oct. 23 in the 3rd Tanzania Race for the Cure, established in partnership with the Tanzania Breast Cancer Foundation and Susan G. Komen for the Cure®

    As we entered Dar es Salaam’s city center and pulled into the parking lot, I saw people with white and pink t-shirts coming from all directions.  More than 2,000 people braved the morning heat to participate in the third annual Tanzania Race for the Cure.  Hosted by the Tanzania Breast Cancer Foundation in a collaboration with Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, participants included local Tanzanians, a 55-member U.S. Embassy team, survivors in pink t-shirts and children with their mothers and fathers all eager to join the race. I met a group of youngsters, socially aware and eager to support the mission, who had come from the northern part of the country.  It was as diverse a group as one would see on a Sunday morning in Dar es Salaam.

    The army of Pink racers left the city center at 8 a.m. for the 5 kilometer walk through the streets of Dar. Covering the length of a city block, race participants began to walk, flanked by a troupe of musicians and led by a uniformed marching band. Security and local police cleared the path. Immediately, the city came alive. The music and rhythm of the walkers was contagious and even those not in the race were seen dancing and joining in.

    As we walked past buildings, next to alleys and through entire neighborhoods, the power of the event became immediately aware. Each street that we passed had a group of bystanders and onlookers, pointing, looking and asking questions. What are they doing? Why is everyone wearing pink?

    I saw young boys tugging on their mother’s skirts and pointing to the group; a young girl, who was busy trying to open a can of soda her father had given her, stopped immediately as we passed and pointed as if to ask her father what was going on. People on buses, unable to penetrate the stream of pink, looked on with part wonder, part frustration as the group continued unabated. These questions, the inquisitive looks and the amazement of some of the city’s residents; this is the power of the Race for the Cure. Each Race generates awareness far beyond those who participate in it.

    The walk slowed only as the marching band at the front changed streets in an effort to return to the stadium. Photographers and local media either filmed the scene from moving vehicles  or ran alongside trying to capture the faces of the women and the individuals who had decided to spend a hot morning marching in support of breast cancer programs in Tanzania.

    Each woman, wearing a pink t-shirt told a different story. This is a country where late-stage diagnosis and a fragile health system lead to unacceptably high morbidity and mortality rates. As in most countries in Africa, Tanzania women desperately need awareness programs and early diagnosis venues.

    As the group re-entered the stadium, there was a renewed sense of energy. Even though they had endured a long walk in the blistering sun, the army of pink continued to the seating area, dancing, laughing and celebrating the accomplishment.

    Susan G. Komen EVP and CMO, Katrina McGhee with participants
    Above: Angela Kuzilwa, TBCF executive director; the Hon. Sophia Simba, Tanzania’s Minister for Community Development, Gender and Children; and Katrina McGhee, EVP and CMO for Susan G. Komen for the Cure®

    After about 30 minutes, the program began with introductions from the head of the Tanzania Breast Cancer Foundation and her sisters in arms who battle the disease on a daily basis in Tanzania.  Some survivors took to the stage, sharing their stories and imploring the women in the crowd to be screened. Government officials assured the crowd that the government was aware of the need to support more screening, better treatment options and provide support for the mothers, daughters, sisters and grandmothers afflicted by this terrible disease. Katrina McGhee rallied the crowd by saying that Susan G. Komen, which has partnered with the TBCF in Tanzania since 2008, would continue to support programs to end the disease on the continent and around the world. There were applause, there was laughter and there was passion.

    And then, almost four hours after it began, the 3rd Annual Tanzania Race for the Cure ended with people taking pictures, smiling and sharing stories. Just as easily as the 1,500 people had streamed into the city center that morning, they were gone, blending into the daily hustle and bustle of city life.

    I may have imagined it, but I sensed a little more energy in the city that morning; a little more enthusiasm and a strong sense of accomplishment. The army of pink had awoken the city and even those who had no idea that the race was coming, began their days a little more aware. They had seen the faces of breast cancer; the survivors, the co-survivors, the women and the advocates. And hopefully, they would begin to ask questions.


  • Promise Action

    Guest blog post from Susan Brown, Director of Education for Susan G. Komen for the Cure®

    I was in Minneapolis at General Mills earlier this month to talk about breast cancer.  General Mills responded to our challenge asking large employers to take action to communicate to their employees the value they place on breast cancer education and screening during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Dr. Julia Halberg, VP Global Health Services and Chief Medical Officer and Kris Haugen of the Global Health team had invited interested employees to learn about breast cancer and what they could do to take charge of their breast health.

    A great group of women gathered.   They asked questions.  They shared experiences.  Several breast cancer survivors were there and shared their stories, giving living testimonials about the benefit of screening and early detection!  Members of an ongoing cancer support group held right there on the General Mills campus were in the group.  They offered words of encouragement, warmly invited other women to join their group, exchanged email addresses, and stayed after to chat as sometimes women do…

    Many thanks to General Mills for ACTING – to support this educational opportunity, for ensuring that the women and their families at General Mills are empowered to take control of their health by accessing preventive health services – and by encouraging ongoing cancer peer support groups!  We’re grateful for all of our partners who support employee health programs like these. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’ve asked major companies to provide programs that inform and support employees facing breast cancer.

    More than a dozen companies representing more than 400,000 employees committed to doing so, including:

      • ACH Food Companies
      • American Airlines
      • Belk
      • HSN
      • Key Bank
      • MulvannyG2 Architecture
      • New Balance
      • REMAX
      • Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau
      • State Farm
      • Texas Instruments
      • Virginia Mason Medical Center
      • Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association
      • WPP
      • Yoplait


    I was just delighted to visit General Mills’ campus and see this kind of support in action.  AND, I got to tour the BETTY CROCKER KITCHEN!!!  A bonus for me!




  • Champions of Change

    Champions of ChangeWe were delighted when five leading scientists and advocates were named “Champions of Change” by the White House last week.  We know the five – Dr. Amelie Ramirez, Ann Partridge, Anne Marie Murphy, Elyse Gellerman and Robin Prothro – to be among the most dedicated and game-changing individuals in the breast cancer movement.  Ramirez and Partridge advise Komen on scientific programs. Gellerman and Prothro are leaders in our Affiliate network.  Murphy runs the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force working to end disparities in breast cancer outcomes for minority women.  What do these leaders think are the next challenges in the breast cancer movement?   They’ve written down their stories to share with us through the Champions of Change website.

  • Bosnia Race for the Cure

    Guest post from Itai Shamir, Program Manager –  International Development Program at American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) who manages the Women’s Health Empowerment Program (WHEP).

    Susan G. Komen for the Cure, JDC and WHEPOn September 24, our Fourth Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure took place in Vilsonovo Setaliste, a beautiful park, in Sarajevo. This has definitely become a tradition here in Bosnia, and was our kick-off event for October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

    More than 5,400 people registered for this event, and traveled to Sarajevo from 20 different cities. Some have even traveled as far as 300 miles to participate in the Race, and left their homes very early in the morning to be there by 11:00am.

    Our Race Chair, Danuta Moon, wife of U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia, was very helpful with the organization. Especially with the media promotion and with securing the participants of other Embassies including Kuwait, the Embassy of the Palestinian Authority, Switzerland, France, Sweden, Brazil, Italy, Turkey, Ukraine,  and Croatia, making this event quite global, reminding us that breast cancer is still a global crisis.

    The Embassy of Kuwait, also awarded us with 5,000 Bosnian Marc (about $3,500 U.S. Dollars) that we awarded to 5 local partners in a lottery for various breast cancer programs in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Additional local VIPs and governmental representatives participated as well.

    US Ambassador, Patrick Moon, was the key speaker, also acknowledging JDC and Susan G. Komen for their work in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and for the profound impact of our activities on so many women and their families. Additional main speakers included the Mayor of Sarajevo, and Bosnia’s President’s Chief Advisor for International Affairs.

    As always we delivered prizes to the first three runners and prizes to our local partners who have been so prominent in helping us to arrange this Race. The U.S. and Swiss Ambassadors also ran with their security guards, and came in the top 10 runners! All prizes were donated by Samsung Croatia, and additional sponsors like Nestle, provided food and drinks and other small prizes for survivors. We also had a few local stars performing, keeping the crowd very excited and engaged.

    At the end of the Race, we invited all survivors on stage for a photo, in their pink Race t-shirts, giving breast cancer a public image, singing and dancing to I Run for Life by Melissa Etheridge!

    All in all it was a very successful and beautiful event, celebrating life and survivorship as well as honoring those who lost their battle with this disease. The atmosphere was very special, and it warmed my heart to see Bosnians from different cultures and ethnic groups, from all ages, including many mothers and husbands and their children come together in this fight which is still quite a taboo in Bosnia.

    Pictures from the Susan G. Komen Bosnia-Herzegovina Race for the Cure are in the slideshow below.

  • Improving Outcomes in Medically Underserved and Rural Areas

    Susan G. Komen is taking leadership again today in the breast cancer movement with the announcement of a new, multi-year partnership with GE.  Komen Founder and CEO Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker and GE chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt announced the partnership today, aimed at bringing new technology and innovation to the breast cancer movement to dramatically improve breast cancer outcomes for women in rural areas and developing countries.

    In the U.S., the Komen/GE partnership will start with screening initiatives for Wyoming, one of the least densely populated regions of the country, and to Saudi Arabia and China, with an aim of overcoming medical resource and education issues that may affect screening rates.

    GE also announced a $1 billion cancer research and development commitment, and a $100 million innovation challenge to find and fund ideas for better breast cancer diagnostics.

    Today’s partnership announcement follows our announcement Tuesday of a new partnership with the George W. Bush Institute, the U.S. State Department and UNAIDS to bring breast and cervical cancer screening to existing HIV/AIDS platforms in Africa. That program is called the Pink Ribbon, Red Ribbon partnership.

    Read more over at the GE Healthymagination Blog.