What Does ‘Survivor’ Mean to You?

Survivor is defined as ‘one to remain alive or in existence; to live on; to continue to function or prosper.’ To us, it is all that and it is synonymous for “hero” – a warrior and one who shows great courage.’ It goes without saying that one who battles and overcomes a life-threatening disease or illness, such as breast cancer, is indeed a hero.  We want to honor all the breast cancer survivors, our heroes – today, tomorrow and always.

Susan G. Komen Orange County hosted its annual Survivor Celebration & Awards Banquet on August 12 at the Oasis Senior Center in Corona Del Mar. Themed “A Day at the Races,” it was a day that celebrated the survivors, role models and heroes. A special tribute honored our very own, Robin Pollok, who this year, lost her third battle against Stage 4 breast cancer. Pollok was best known for singing the national anthem at the start of the annual Race for the Cure. Despite the debilitating treatment sessions, she never missed a Race in the last 16 years. This is a true testament to her fight against her illness. This is the true mark of a hero.

Robin Pollok

Robin Pollok sings at the 2011 Race for the Cure

The Survivor Celebration & Awards Banquet also recognized other survivors, hard-working volunteers, and faithful supporters, who stood alongside a loved one battling breast cancer. Those honorees were:

  • Carla Cammack, a survivor and Komen Orange County volunteer who held pivotal roles for several years at Race for the Cure including Race Chair.
  • Veronica Mora, a young woman whose breast cancer was detected early, thanks in part to free testing funded by Komen.
  • Peggy Swanson-Taylor received the Most Inspirational Breast Cancer Survivor Award for noteworthy work with women diagnosed with breast cancer, her unselfish commitment in volunteering, raising awareness and tens of thousands of dollars to help end this disease, and especially for celebrating 30 years of being cancer-
  • Louie Rodriguez, a retiree of the Long Beach Fire Department, was honored with the Most Inspirational Breast Cancer Journey Partner Award. Rodriguez stood by his wife who lost her battle against the disease in 2015. Together he and his wife started Pink Ribbons and Blessings, a breast cancer clothing and jewelry stored located in Orange.
  • Reyna Crespo, who received the Outstanding Breast Health Advocate Award for her steadfast work in educating and recruiting Latina women to get free mammograms at Northgate Markets.

Hats off to all survivors, volunteers and supporters – our heroes – for taking a stand against this disease that has claimed so many lives.

Guests attending our 2017 Survivors Banquet (from L to R): Sherall Gradias, Carla Cammack, Jane Hill, and Donna Hartman

In addition to our Survivor Award Banquet, we host various initiatives throughout the years to support our beloved survivors and their families. A special tribute to survivors will also be held at the Komen Orange County Race for the Cure on September 24 at Newport Beach’s Fashion Island.

From September through February 2018, Komen Orange County is offering a Breast Health Education Series, free workshops that are open to the public, covering breast health topics including risk reduction, screening, diagnostics, treatment, metastatic breast cancer and survivorship.

Information on these events and others can be found here. We hope to see you at an upcoming event!

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Men in Pink

Komen Orange County may not have Agent J, K and Frank the Pug on its side to pursue its mission of saving lives and ending breast cancer forever, but it can certainly count on the support of Orange County finest men, the Pink Tie Guys.

For the past 11 years, Komen Orange County has recognized a new class of seven Pink Tie Guys each year, an exclusive group of male advocates committed to the local fight against breast cancer. The 2017-2018 class was honored at Komen Orange County’s annual Pink Tie Ball, hosted at Huntington Beach’s Paséa on May 13. The celebration themed “On the Edge,” raised more than $635,000 to fund the next generation of research and local initiatives to achieve the organization’s Bold Goal, to reduce the current number of breast cancer deaths by 50 percent in the U.S. by 2026.

Each Pink Tie Guy was presented with a pink tie donated by Macy’s, symbolic of their commitment to raise awareness within the business community in support of Komen’s mission.

photo of the 2017-18 class of Pink Tie Guys

From left to right: Ken Paramo, William Sanderson, Mark Rhee, David Moatazedi, Denis Kalscheur, Michael Ricks accepting for Robert Braithwaite, Ray Baird. Photo credit: Antje Woolum

Here is your chance to learn more about these local philanthropists:

  • Mark Rhee was the 2017 Pink Tie Ball co-chair, with his wife Dr. Jessica Rhee, Komen OC Board member and oncologist at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian and UC Irvine Health. Mark’s mother is a breast cancer survivor, and sadly, his mother-in-law lost her battle against breast cancer several years ago. Mark has spent 20+ years in senior finance business operations and development roles in different industries and now is an entrepreneur who owns and operates businesses in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Nevada, Los Angeles and Hawaii.
  • Ray Baird, Founding Partner of Branding Business, has been providing pro bono marketing and communication consulting to Komen Orange County for the past year. Ray’s wife is a two-time breast cancer survivor who has been cancer free for 15+ years. His personal experience brought him a deeper understanding of the struggles a woman faces from the moment of diagnosis, through treatment, to reconstruction and beyond.
  • Robert Braithwaite, President & CEO of Hoag Hospital, has been instrumental in providing grants to the Komen Fund providing breast cancer diagnostic procedures for uninsured low-income women. Hoag Hospital’s Community Benefits Program and Hoag Hospital Foundation also have been very supportive of our mobile mammography initiative.
  • Denis Kalscheur, Vice Chairman of Aviation Capital Group, earned his title of Pink Tie Guy by being a Pink Tie Ball Co-chair last year. He used every ounce of business leverage that he possessed to bring the worldwide aviation industry on board to support Komen Orange County’s work.
  • David Moatazedi, Senior Vice President of US Medical Aesthetics at Allergan, recently attended the funeral for his 37-year-old colleague who lost her battle with breast cancer, leaving behind a husband and a 2-year-old son. This was a wakeup call for David who decided to support Komen in its bold goal.
  • Ken Paramo is Brand Manager at Korbel Sparkling Wines for Southern California. Ken and his company, Brown-Forman, have generously donated wine and spirits to KomenOC events, including the past 11 Pink Tie Balls!
  • William Sanderson, Corporate Executive Vice President and CFO at Golden State Foods, recently organized a creative corporate fundraiser. For each member of the management team who wore a pink tie to work, the company donated to Susan G. Komen. The event was a great success and raised a total of $2,400.

Thanks to the support of these gentlemen, and the 70 Pink tie Guys who’ve preceded them, Komen Orange County’s Pink Tie Ball has raised more than $3.6 million over the past decade, with 75 percent funding local programs focused on the breast health needs within the community and 25 percent given to global breast cancer research. Hats off to our very own Men in Pink!

Giving the Gift of Breast Health Care for Mothers and Daughters

At the age of 26, Veronica was not prepared for a breast cancer diagnosis and everything that come along with it.  Neither was her mom. Veronica was less than one year away from graduating from Cal State, Fullerton when she noticed that her nipple was inverted. Her mother was not worried because her sister had the same breast abnormality. A few months later Veronica felt a lump near the areola on the same breast.  Now she was scared.

Uninsured at the time, she went to the only place she knew that might be able to help her, Planned Parenthood. She was then referred to Breastlink, who diagnosed her with Her2 positive breast cancer that had spread into her lymph nodes. She was told that chemotherapy would damage her fertility.  At 26, Veronica hadn’t even thought about having children yet!

Suddenly, Veronica went from being a normal college student to fighting for her life with the immense stress of how to pay for all the cares. Emotionally, she wasn’t coping well. Neither was her Mom. Veronica could not handle the weight of her mother’s sorrow on top of her own emotional distress. Following her doctor’s advice, Veronica called Susan G. Komen Orange County.

Veronica Mora and her mother

Veronica Mora and her mother

At Komen Orange County, Veronica and her mom received a warm welcome from Cafecitos Hope, a Spanish-speaking comfort support group for Latina breast cancer survivors. That’s when Veronica realized how her diagnostic procedures were paid. It was Susan G. Komen Orange County who had silently stepped in and paid for her first ultrasound and needle biopsy that diagnosed her cancer at Breastlink. It was Komen who had offered her a free wig when her hair fell out. It was Komen who had referred her to free local mental health services. And, it was Komen who was helping her mother learn to cope with her sorrow.

Susan G. Komen Orange County was able to make an impact on Veronica and her mother’s lives because of YOUR support. Thanks to you, Veronica will be graduating this month from Cal State Fullerton! Help us honoring other moms and loved ones on Mother’s Day by giving the gift of breast health care for all women in need throughout Orange County.

There are many ways you can do so:

  • Please consider making a donation, by clicking here.
  • Join our celebration by using Facebook’s custom “Mom & Me” profile picture filter on your Facebook page and tell us your favorite #MomAndMe moment. To learn more, click here
Mom & Me Facebook filter

Mom & Me Facebook filter

  • Help spread the word with your family, friends and professional network about upcoming free mammograms screenings. To be eligible, women must be 40 years of age or older, have low income, have no or limited insurance, not be receiving these services through Medi-Cal or another government-sponsored program, live in California and not have had a mammogram in the past 12 months. It is also mandatory to sign up in advance. Below, you will find a list of sign-up events and onsite mammography screening events. For more information, contact Ambrocia Lopez at 714-957-9157 ext. 25 or via email at alopez@komenoc.org.

MAMMOGRAPHY SIGN-UP EVENTS:

  • May 11, 2-5 p.m. at Northgate Gonzalez Market, 770 S Harbor Blvd, Santa Ana, CA 92704
  • May 13, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Northgate Gonzalez Market Store, 6991 Lincoln Avenue, Buena Park, CA 90620
  • May 16, 2-6 p.m. at Northgate Gonzalez Market Store, 6991 Lincoln Avenue, Buena Park, CA 90620
  • May 18, 2-6 p.m. at Northgate Gonzalez Market, 2030 East Lincoln Avenue, Anaheim, CA 92806
  • May 20, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Northgate Gonzalez Market, 2030 East Lincoln Avenue, Anaheim, CA 92806

ONSITE MAMMOGRAPHY SCREENING EVENTS:

  • May 15, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at Northgate Gonzalez Market , 770 S Harbor Blvd, Santa Ana, CA 92704
  • May 22, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at Northgate Gonzalez Market Store , 6991 Lincoln Avenue, Buena Park, CA 90620
  • May 26, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at Northgate Gonzalez Market Store, 2030 East Lincoln Avenue, Anaheim, CA 92806

Help us bring hope to mothers and daughters fighting breast cancer!

Orange County Survivors and Advocates Celebrated at Komen Orange County Awards Luncheon

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Three strong and inspirational individuals were recognized at the 2013 Komen Orange County Survivor Celebration and Awards Luncheon  on August 11 , in addition to the many more being celebrated throughout the day. As in years past, this is always a wonderful event where we can give back to inspiring survivors, co-survivors and advocates from within the Orange County community.

Orange County Sheriff-Coroner Sandra Hutchens, who, in October of 2012 announced her diagnosis with Stage III breast cancer, gave a speech that was inspiring, emotional and humorous. We are so grateful to her for coming out and sharing her experiences and stories with the award recipients and all those in attendance. This was the first event where she shared her deeply personal story and she did it in a way that touched us all.

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Three honorees were awarded Most Inspirational Breast Cancer Survivor, Most Inspirational Co-Survivor and Outstanding Breast Health Advocate.

The Most Inspirational Breast Cancer Survivor recipient was Huntington Beach resident Georganna Hall Wadsack who, when diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 as a 38-year-old single mother, was able to benefit from programs put in place by Komen Orange County which helped in both her diagnosis and treatment. She has since been married and invested herself in Komen Orange County by taking part in many events. She spoke during the Survivor Tribute at last year’s Race for the Cure and volunteered at Stand Up for the Cure which, with the help of Georganna and other volunteers, raised more than $100,000 last year! Georganna will be joining the advisory board for 2014’s Stand Up for the Cure.

The Most Inspirational Co-Survivor recipient was Aliso Viejo resident, Melissa McGee, who has been affected by the disease three times by supporting and caring for her two friends and mother who had breast cancer. Melissa is also the person responsible for bringing to life the ever-inspiring Susan’s Gardens Posters that decorate the Race for the Cure path each year. She creates and hangs each poster on race day in memory and recognition of loved ones who have fought the disease (The deadline to purchase your order is Sept. 4th)

The Outstanding Breast Health Advocate recipient, Angela Acevedo, got involved with Komen Orange County after recognizing a need for community outreach and education with Latinas through her work at St. Joseph’s Hospital. She identified a need in a high-risk population and goes above and beyond her call of duty as a nurse navigator. Not only does she help those with breast cancer navigate what can be a confusing landscape of health care, but she also volunteers her time to Komen Orange County events, even going as far as traveling to Indiana to donate her own breast tissue at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Tissue Bank at IU Simon Cancer Center in Indiana

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Thank you to everyone who attended this wonderful event. Komen Orange County is proud to honor individuals leading the charge toward furthering breast health education and energizing science for the cure.

For more information about Komen Orange County, visit us at http://www.komenoc.org, or text “News” to 50555 for mobile updates . You can also text “KomenOC” to 50555 to donate to local breast health services and education in Orange County.

Upcoming Events:

August 24th Join us for our last Team Captain Kickoff before the race! Come meet other team captains, learn effective ways to fundraise, and about all the race day logistics!

September 22nd – The 22nd annual Komen Orange County Race for the Cure will be held at Fashion Island. If you haven’t registered yet, click here to join a team, start your own, or just support the race! We’re looking forward to seeing everyone at the starting line!

Real Men Wear Pink

We are so excited to have such wonderful volunteers in our Komen OC community and share this great story with you!  Cory Holmes, 26, has been working hard on his custom car to help us spread breast cancer awareness.  A great article ran in the Tustin News today on Cory and his 2006 Infiniti G35 Coupe. We guarantee you haven’t seen a volunteer or a car one like this!

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We can’t forget Cory’s tattoo, another way he helps spread breast cancer awareness.

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UPDATE MARCH 15: Cory’s story will be featured in The Orange County Register on March 16. We’re thankful for Cory’s support and proud to have such an inspirational volunteer!

Komen Orange County Marches in Huntington Beach Fourth of July Parade

Komen Orange County was grateful to recently participate in the 108th annual Huntington Beach Fourth of July Parade.  A team of more than 40 survivors marched along Main Street in Huntington Beach to help spread breast health awareness and generate buzz about the upcoming Race for the Cure on Sunday, September 23.

The two mile parade began on the Pacific Coast Highway at 10:00 a.m., turned left onto Main St. and ended just after Yorktown Ave.

Men, women and children of all ages showed their support by wearing pink Komen OC T-shirts and carrying pink pompoms.

Dr. Lisa Guerra, 2012 Survivor Award recipient for Outstanding Breast Health Advocate, waved pink pompoms from the back of a pink Komen OC golf cart.

The Huntington Beach Fourth of July Parade and Festival is said to be the biggest Independence Day celebration in Southern California. Thank you to all of our supporters and survivors who participated in the Huntington Beach Fourth of July parade.

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Surf’s Up for the Cure!

Riviera Paddlesurf is partnering with Kona Brewing Co., Maui Jim Sunglasses and Ohso! Design to host Standup for the Cure on Saturday, May 5, at Newport Dunes in Newport Beach to raise awareness for breast cancer. Pink will take over the beach as paddlers of all ages and abilities standup paddleboard around Newport Harbor to raise funds for our affiliate.

After being introduced to standup paddle boarding, Komen OC volunteer Judy Vivian decided to team up with Dan Van Dyck, coordinator for numerous paddling races to organize an event benefiting the chapter while having some fun under the sun.

Standup for the Cure activities include:

  • Breast cancer survivor paddleboard clinic with World Championship contender Zane Schweitzer
  • A chance to learn Yoga on a standup paddleboard
  • Silent auction for standup paddling equipment
  • Live music and refreshments
  • … and more!

Tickets are now available for purchase. To register to or to get more information, check out Standup for the Cure’s Active page. Thank you to all who attend for your support!