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  • Discussing Health and Family in Guadalajara

    Post by Mariel Caballero, Multicultural Marketing, Susan G. Komen.

    Family comes first. It’s an expression – but really, a way of life – by which many of us who come from Latino families live.

    But we’ve also learned at Susan G. Komen that many Hispanic/Latina women in the U.S. and around the globe are putting their families first, but putting themselves – and their health – in a risky second place.

    Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Hispanic/Latina women in the U.S.  And Hispanic/Latina women are more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage, larger and/or more difficult-to-treat tumors. We want to change that.

    This is why Komen works to educate Hispanic/Latina women about their risk, and empower them to go see a doctor if they notice something abnormal. Last month, I had the opportunity to go to Guadalajara, Mexico, and support our partner NatureSweet as they encouraged their employees to make their health a priority – including their breast health.

    Since our partnership began in 2012, NatureSweet has donated more than $150,000 to support Komen’s mission. But I got to see their true commitment to the fight against breast cancer (and to their employees!) at a recent Health Fair and Training that was hosted at their Zapotlan plant.

    Since this particular plant has a high percentage of female employees, NatureSweet wanted to take the opportunity to talk about all aspects of women’s health, inviting Komen to host a Spanish breast cancer awareness and education session.

    We were expecting about 40-50 people to attend, but  more than 150 individuals,  including NatureSweet’s leadership team, attended the session, learning more about breast cancer and our global mission to end it.

    I told the attendees that family is important, but if you love your family, and you want to live many happy years with relatives, or watching your kids grow up, then you HAVE to take care of yourself. There were women in the audience who admitted that if they had a health issue, they’d just ignore it. One woman told me that a friend of hers recently found a lump in her breast, but didn’t want to go to the doctor.

    We discussed some of the statistics and cultural behaviors that affect women in Mexico. During the discussion, I encouraged the audience to talk to at least three or more women, and share what they learned during that session. Every 60 seconds, someone loses their life to this disease, so it’s not something that can wait!

    We must take care of ourselves the same way we take care of our families.

    NatureSweet also teamed up with the Mexican Ministry of Health for the week, bringing in a mobile mammography unit which provided more than 54 free mammograms over the course of just a few days.

    Sharing information about breast cancer and inspiring Hispanic/Latina women to take charge of their health will make a huge impact in the lives of women now, and for generations to come, and I’m so pleased that NatureSweet gave us the opportunity to talk about this important issue. I think about the women in that session, and I hope that they really did tell three people about breast cancer, and that those individuals told three more people…

    If we truly want to put our families first, then let’s make sure to educate ourselves – and our families – so that maybe someday no one will have to lose a mother, sister or friend to breast cancer.

  • Men Can Get Breast Cancer Too!

    Post by Erica Kuhn, Manager, Health Publications, Susan G. Komen

    Five years ago I “virtually” met Christine – a passionate advocate of male breast cancer. Christine tells everyone – everywhere she goes, whether she knows them or not – that men can get breast cancer. Why? Because Christine lost her beloved husband, Paul, to the disease, and vowed to advocate for and educate people about male breast cancer for the rest of her life.

    I have never forgotten her. She touched me, and continues to inspire me to help Komen promote male breast cancer education and awareness. Komen has had a huge impact on the breast cancer movement, investing more than $2.5 billion for our mission to save lives and end this terrible disease. I believe it’s our job and our passion to remind the world that our vision of a world without breast cancer includes male breast cancer. I feel I owe it to her and her husband – no, it’s more than that. I want to do what we can to spread the message.


    It’s a simple message, really: “Men get breast cancer too!” The statistics may be low, but still about one percent of all breast cancer cases in the U.S. occur in men. That means this year alone about 2,360 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men, and 430 will die. Those are our husbands, fathers, grandfathers, uncles and our friends.

    That’s why today, while we celebrate the men in our lives, we also encourage family members to talk to each other about male breast cancer. We encourage doctors to talk to their patients about it. Learn all you can.

    Here are some important facts you should know:

    - Although some factors have been found to increase the risk of breast cancer in men, most men who are diagnosed have no known risk factors (except for older age). In men, breast cancer occurs most often between ages 65 and 67.

    - Breast cancer screening tests such as clinical breast exams and mammograms are not recommended for most men. However, some men at higher risk of breast cancer (such as those with a BRCA1 or BRCA 2 gene mutation or a strong family history of the disease) may benefit from screening.

    If you have concerns about your risk of breast cancer, talk to your doctor.

    So what should you be looking for?  The most common sign of breast cancer in men is a painless lump or thickening in the breast or chest area. However, any change in the breast or nipple can be a warning sign of breast cancer, and needs to be checked. Don’t ignore it or wait too long to get help because you are embarrassed or worried. Putting off seeing a doctor may result in a delay in diagnosis. Survival is highest when breast cancer is found early.

    Read about treatment options for men who are diagnosed with breast cancer.

    Because most people think of breast cancer as something that only affects women, men who are diagnosed may feel isolated and alone. A man may likely be the only man with breast cancer at his treatment center, or the only man he knows with breast cancer. Finding sources of social support may help. If you have questions or concerns, call our breast care helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636). Or, check out our Message Board forum for male breast cancer survivors to talk to other male breast cancer survivors about the challenges of living with breast cancer.

    So, as we approach Father’s Day, if you are lucky enough to get to spend the day with your dad, I encourage you to hug him a little longer, and be sure you tell him you love him, not just today, but every day. And, remember, spread the message: men can get breast cancer too!

  • From Hopelessness to Hope

    Post by Mayra Sandoval, Helpline Specialist, Susan G. Komen

    Working on the Susan G. Komen® breast care helpline is truly rewarding. But honestly, there are times when I feel defeated.  Daily, I tell myself, “You can’t lead the people, if you don’t love the people. You can’t save the people if you don’t serve the people.” (Dr. Cornel West)

    There are people across the country in need of financial assistance, access to treatment, information, support – maybe even just a hug.

    As a helpline specialist, it can be challenging not being able to fully help our callers due to a lack of resources; fortunately, this was not the case for Patricia. I hold clients like her dear to my heart.

    Patricia called the helpline in a panic. She felt overwhelmed, and was even contemplating taking her own life. She had recently been diagnosed with stage IV metastatic breast cancer. She lacked a support system, and was also experiencing financial difficulties. Even for those with financial resources, it can be stressful to manage breast cancer treatment – decisions that have to be made, appointments to be scheduled and more – while also having to worry about the financial aspects involved in everyday care and other expenses like rent, groceries and childcare.

    Instantly, I heard how depressed and hopeless she felt. I was able to offer her some encouragement, and let her know that she had made the first step by calling in. We discussed some of the questions she had about her cancer, as well as some of the resources that I thought would help her, including information about the Linking ARMS program, which is funded by a Komen grant. This program provided her with funds for transportation to get to and from her treatment.

    Equally as important, I was also able to connect her with support services. Although Patricia felt depressed and hopeless, she took the resources I gave her. I was hopeful Patricia would build her support network and speak to other metastatic breast cancer patients. As we finished talking, I thought how difficult a breast cancer diagnosis, especially metastatic, can be. On the helpline, we know that making time for our callers to openly express their feelings is an important part of their journey, and a big step in coping.

    A few months later, I was able to do a follow up call with Patricia. It is somewhat rare for us to have the opportunity to follow up with a caller, but I was pleased to hear from her!

    Patricia relayed to me that she had taken advantage of the resources and supportive services. She received financial assistance and joined support groups in her area.

    Then she told me our conversation “saved her life.”  

    It’s moments like these that inspire me to make a positive impact in the life of every caller. It is a true honor to be part of Komen, and all of the great work that happens daily.

    If you have questions about breast cancer – any questions! – you can always give us a call at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636).

  • FY15 Research Funding Opportunities: Focusing on Young Investigators

    We are excited to announce funding opportunities through three grant mechanisms for which early career breast cancer researchers anywhere in the world are invited to apply.  Learn more about our Requests for Applications (RFAs).  We are now accepting applications.

    Komen Training and Career Development awards seek to bridge the funding gap that recently graduated PhDs and early faculty face as they start their careers in breast cancer research.  Grants funded by Komen provide the preparation necessary to compete for independent funding as an established and successful breast cancer researcher.

    These research grants are made possible in part through fundraising efforts, such as the Race for the Cure, at local Komen Affiliates across the US.  If you’ve participated in a Komen Fundraising Event, you’ve directly helped to fund breast cancer research opportunities such as these.

    If you’re interested in learning more about Komen’s research portfolio, check out our Research Fast Facts, which can give you information about specific areas in breast cancer research, and our Research World Map, which breaks out Komen’s research investments across the world – and maybe even in your own backyard.

    Scientists are invited to apply at  by July 17, 2014 at 1pm EST.

  • Supporting Breast Cancer Efforts in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

    By Chandini Portteus, Chief Mission Officer, Susan G. Komen

    On Friday, May 16, 2014, I was honored to participate in a breast cancer panel and spend an evening with an amazing group of female Saudi leaders from all walks of life.  Nearly 40 women from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia arrived just a couple of days earlier to take part in a 5-day leadership development course at GE’s Crotonville leadership academy outside of New York from May 14-18.  On this Friday evening, we had an opportunity to discuss the importance of continuing to raise breast cancer awareness in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in our joint efforts to end breast cancer forever worldwide.

    Integral to Susan G. Komen’s mission is our belief that where a woman lives shouldn’t determine whether she lives, which is why Komen continues to support activities outside the United States and is currently active in more than 30 countries around the world. Since 2011, Komen has been working closely with GE in Saudi Arabia to support the Ministry of Health’s breast cancer efforts. Our work through this partnership has three priorities – 1) implementing a public awareness campaign, 2) conducting call center training sessions, and 3) facilitating medical providers’ trainings.

    The Ministry of Health has shared that more than 20,000 people were reached through these activities and over 11,000 women have been screened since the program launched on March 31, 2012. Highlighting the urgency to address breast cancer, which is the most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer death among women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Dr. Iman Baroum, Consultant Breast Radiologist and Chief of Central Coordination Unit for Jeddah Breast Cancer Screening Pilot Program with the Saudi Ministry of Health and one of the panelists, said that “We must be ready to face the challenge of foreseeable increase in breast cancer burden in the Kingdom; the success of pilot programs in Riyadh and Jeddah have reinforced the need for a national breast cancer screening program, which the Ministry of Health is now planning to deploy.”

    Pat Pearman, GE healthymagination, Director of Brain Health, discussed GE’s commitment to supporting global health initiatives and highlighted the impact of the Wyoming Women First project.  Pat shared that even women who are homeless will take advantage of the opportunity to be screened if given the chance.

    Rounding the panel discussion, Gail Blanke, Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Lifedesigns, talked about Avon breast cancer efforts around the world including in Jeddah and urged all participants to make a difference in their communities and take control of their health. Gail reminded us all of Margaret Meade’s statement that we should. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

    Following the discussion, Golnar Kamalvand, moderator and GE Solutions Program Manager, asked all to write on a card an action step that they will undertake once they return in an effort to address breast cancer. The cards will be mailed to participants two weeks upon their return to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a friendly reminder of the commitment they made and how their efforts can make an impact in their community.

    It was heartening to see the level of commitment and dedication to ending breast cancer among these talented women. While great strides against this terrible disease have been made, more works remains until quality cancer care can be made available for every woman and man who needs it. That is why Komen will continue to partner with local NGOs, governments, and businesses until we see the world without breast cancer.