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Celebrating Our Pink Tie Partners

For the 12th consecutive year, our Annual Pink Tie Ball united hundreds of Komen Orange County advocates and supporters to raise funds toward breast health services and groundbreaking cancer research. Every year, we seize this opportunity to highlight outstanding men and women who work alongside our organization. In 2018, Komen Orange County recognized five ‘Pink Tie Partners’, for their life-changing contributions to our cause. Get to know them better:

Photo credit: Carol Moore From L to R: Bill Meehan, Dr. Allyson Brooks, Dr. Devon Lawson, Marica Pendjer and Pete Tzavalas

Photo credit: Carol Moore
From L to R: Bill Meehan, Dr. Allyson Brooks, Dr. Devon Lawson, Marica Pendjer and Pete Tzavalas

  • Bill Meehan, managing partner at Rutan & Tucker, LLP a long-time supporter of Komen OC mission programs. Bill and his company have supported many of our fundraisers, including our Reds, Whites and Greens golf tournament, Pink Tie Ball and Race for the Cure.
  • Allyson Brooks, Ginny Ueberroth executive medical director endowed chair of Hoag’s Women’s Health Institute. Hoag has been a great supporter of our mobile mammography and Latina outreach. Recently, we also partnered to host the first Spanish language cancer survivor conference in Orange County.
  • Devon Lawson, metastatic breast cancer researcher and professor at the University of California, Irvine. She is co-leader of the UCI Breast Disease Oriented Team, which she helped establish to facilitate collaboration between UCI physicians, scientists, and local breast cancer advocates to promote an integrated environment for breast cancer research and clinical care at UCI. She also has been a speaker at the Komen OC Education Series for several years.
  • Marica Pendjer, principal of Creative Collaborations, a boutique Orange County-based marketing and public relations firm. She served as Komen OC Board President from 2005 to 2007, was chair of the Race for the Cure and 2012 Pink Tie Ball Chair. Her work with Komen has earned her a Cameo Award, BMW Ultimate Drive Local Hero Award, Kellogg’s Rise and Shine Award for outstanding volunteerism, and recognition as Volunteer of the Year.
  • Pete Tzavalas, senior vice president at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. He is actively working to bring Komen OC to the attention of businesses and encourage their financial support. His company has sponsored a table at the Pink Tie Ball for several years and brought a new mix of guests to support the cause.

Thanks to the efforts of our Pink Tie Partners and the 450+ guests in attendance, this year’s gala raised $617,000 to help fund our bold goal to reduce the current number of breast cancer deaths by 50 percent in the U.S. by 2026.  Since its inception in 2007, the Komen Orange County Pink Tie Ball has raised nearly $6 million and recognized a total of 84 Orange County businessmen and community leaders as Pink Tie Partners.

Photo credit: Antje Woolum Photography 2018 Pink Tie Ball Committee Members

Photo credit: Antje Woolum Photography
2018 Pink Tie Ball Committee Members

The Pink Tie Ball is one of several fundraisers we organize each year to help fund breast cancer education and services such as free mammography screenings benefitting women in our community. Join us at our next big event, Race for the Cure, on Sunday, Sept. 23, at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. To take advantage of early-bird registration fee, sign up at www.komenoc.org/race.

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Take a “Standup” for the Cure

With our beautiful Southern California weather, why not enjoy a day in the water while raising money to support local breast health education, services and research?

This Cinco de Mayo, come join us for the 7th Annual Standup for the Cure fundraiser at Newport Dunes. All proceeds from this family-friendly event will benefit Komen OC. Beginner and experienced paddlers, as well as “dry-foot” participants, are all welcomed. In addition to paddling clinics and races, there will be yoga classes, free breast cancer and skin cancer screenings provided by Kaiser Permanente, live music and a delicious lunch. There is also an opportunity to win great prizes through the raffle and silent auction.

We also look forward to the Sea of Pink, a ceremonial parade uniting the hundreds of paddlers in attendance, where we pay tribute to our bold and inspiring survivors.

Standup for the Cure poster

STANDUP FOR THE CURE 2018
Saturday, May 5, 2018
8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
1131 Back Bay Drive
Newport Beach, CA, 92660

Schedule of Events:

  • 8 a.m. Registration opens
  • 9 a.m. Free standup paddleboard clinic and standup yoga clinic for all levels
  • 9:30 a.m. Kaiser Permanente Health expo, breast and skin screenings opens
  • 10 a.m. Hawaiian blessing of survivors and white dove release followed by the Sea of Pink, a ceremonial parade for all paddlers in attendance
  • 10:30 a.m. Advanced (5K) and Intermediate (2.5K) races
  • 11 a.m. Kids races and on land yoga class for all levels
  • 11:30 a.m. Team relay races/Happy Hour begins with live music by Timo
  • 12:30 p.m. Lunch served by KJ Catering
  • 2:00 p.m. Prizes for races and top fundraisers are announced
Women paddling

In 2017, StandUp for the Cure raised more than $70,000 for Komen OC.

Regular registration is $35 and breast cancer survivor registration is $30. Participants are encouraged to bring their personal boards or rent them for the full day for easier access to the water. Sign up at https://www.crowdrise.com/registration/event_options/33434

We hope to see you there!

Making Our Voices Heard!

Komen Orange County, along with other Komen affiliates in California, advocate for non-partisan issues on key breast health and breast cancer-related bills at the local, state and national level. The Susan G. Komen for the Cure® Advocacy Alliance is the non-partisan voice for over 3.1 million breast cancers survivors and the people who love them. Our mission is to translate the Komen promise to end breast cancer forever into action at all levels of government to discover and deliver the cures.

On Komen Lobby Day, a delegation from Komen Orange County met with state lawmakers to raise a strong voice on two key breast health and breast cancer-related bills.  Our current advocacy priorities are as follows:

Limiting Out of Pocket Costs of Anticancer Medications AB 1860

AB 1860, proposed by Assemblywoman Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara), will ensure that oral anticancer medication – which is preferred by most patients or in many cases, the only form of treatment available – are affordable and covered by health plans or insurance.  Specifically, this bill would permanently require health care service plans and health insurer to limit patient out-of-pocket costs to $200 per filled prescription. The development of oral chemotherapy has allowed cancer patients to live a more normal and regular life while undergoing treatment, but currently, the high cost of this type of medication deters many patients from receiving the treatment they need in order to fight their disease.

Removing Arbitrary Cap for Breast (and Cervical) Cancer Treatment SB 945
Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) will introduce SB 945, a legislation that seeks to remove arbitrary caps in the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program for low-income, underinsured, or uninsured women in California. Currently, the program caps treatment for breast cancer at 18 months, regardless of medical need. We believe that arbitrarily stopping cancer treatment for our most vulnerable women is risky and potentially life-threatening. SB 945 would remove those caps and allow the program to continue to provide treatment for cancer patients as long as necessary.

Advocates from Komen Orange County lobbying for breast health care for all.  L to R: Director of Mission Programs Ambrocia Lopez,  Board Member Dr. Devera Heard, and  Community Resource Advocate LarLeslie McDaniel.

Advocates from Komen Orange County lobbying for breast health care for all.
L to R: Director of Mission Programs Ambrocia Lopez, Board Member Dr. Devera Heard,  and Community Resource Advocate LarLeslie McDaniel.

Komen is proud to support these two bills that are critical to ensure breast cancer patients, especially in Orange County, are getting the treatment they need.

To learn more about our Advocacy Alliance, click here.

 

Rewriting the Story of African Americans and Breast Cancer

February is Black History Month. Did you know that African American women have a survival rate that’s 41 percent lower than their counterparts? The same research indicates that African American women are often diagnosed at later stages, sometimes with more aggressive forms of cancer and at younger ages.

Susan G. Komen has pledged to ensure that this group of women are empowered with the information and tools they need to take charge of their own health and serve as ambassadors in their local communities.

We sat down with Komen OC’s LarLeslie S. McDaniel, Circle of Promise Community Resource Advocate, to discuss this alarming trend and Komen’s initiative to change this reality.

LarLeslie McDaniel

1) Can you explain why there is an immense disparity between African American women and their counterparts in diagnosis/survival of breast cancer?

There is no simple answer to this question as there are many contributing factors; some of which may include:

  • An increasing trend towards breast cancer incidence and late stage diagnosis
  • Fears around screening and diagnosis
  • Loss to follow-up (not receiving timely medical follow-up and/or not completing treatment continuum of care)
  • Lack of trust in the medical system
  • Lack of knowledge of resources and medical recommendations
  • Uninsured or underinsured without access to high quality medical treatment and/or screening services.

2) What are some general tips to reduce the risk?

Early detection is key to survival. If diagnosed early, the 5-year relative survival rate for breast cancer is 99%. Some risk factors can be controlled and others can’t. The two greatest risk factors for breast cancer are being female and getting older, which cannot be controlled.  It is important to note that while “risk factors” are associated with an increase chance of getting breast cancer, they do not cause breast cancer. These are Komen’s recommendations:

  • Know your risk.” Learn about your family health history and talk to your health care provider about your own personal risk.
  • Get Screened. Ask your doctor which screening tests are right for you if you are at a higher risk.
    • Have a mammogram every year starting at age 40, if you are at average risk.
    • Have a clinical breast exam at least every 3 years starting at age 20, and every year starting at age 40.
  • “Know what is Normal for You.” Know how your breasts look and feel and report any changes to your health care provider right away.
  • Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices.” Maintain a healthy weight. Exercise regularly. Limit alcohol intake and menopausal hormone use and breastfeed, if you can.

3) What is the Circle of Promise?

The Circle of Promise is a California Initiative created by all Susan G. Komen affiliates in the state of California, including Orange County, to address breast cancer disparities at all levels, specifically targeting African American women age 40 and older.  The goal of the initiative is to empower women with the knowledge and resources to enter and seamlessly move through a quality, culturally competent system of health care; to get information, get support and gain access to services that could save their lives.

4) What local resources are available for African-Americans in Orange County if they are uninsured or underinsured, and in need of mammography screening and other resources?

Komen OC can help. Our network partners with health care agencies, hospitals, various community partners and companies to provide all the possible resources to support women, and their families, through their breast cancer experience. You can find resources for mammography, support groups, financial assistance, and local events among others.

We encourage you to help us rewrite the story. The COP Partnership meets bi-monthly for members to learn more about community partnerships and increase breast cancer awareness in the African American community.  The next meeting is on Tuesday, March 27, at 7 p.m. at the Komen OC Affiliate office on 2817 McGaw Ave. Irvine, CA 92614.

Help us rewrite the story of African Americans and breast cancer by joining the Circle of Promise. You can reach LarLeslie McDaniel at 714-957-9157 Ext. 29 or lmcdaniel@komenoc.org.

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!

Banding together with L.A. Chargers Travis Benjamin

As we prepare for the 26th annual Susan G. Komen Orange County Race for the Cure® on September 24th at Newport Beach’s Fashion Island, we reflect on our loved ones, whose lives, as well as our own, have been affected by breast cancer. Whether we were diagnosed with the disease or we know someone who was, the news is life changing.

Travis Benjamin, wide receiver and return specialist for the Los Angeles Chargers is no stranger to the devastating news: he has received it on three different occasions. First, when he was in high school, he learned his grandmother had breast cancer. Later, during his college years, his mother and aunt were both diagnosed with the disease. Fortunately, all three women were able to overcome the disease and are cancer free today! By banding together, he and his family conquered many hardships, coming out even stronger than before.

This year, Benjamin is banding with Komen Orange County to raise awareness about breast cancer and encourage supporters to raise funds. We’re very proud to announce that Benjamin is the Honorary Race Chair for the September 24th Orange County Race for the Cure.

Travis Benjamin

As Honorary Race Chair, Benjamin agreed to shoot a public service announcement (PSA) at one of the Chargers’ training camps in Costa Mesa to promote the Orange County Race for the Cure and to remind us all how important it is to unite with our loved ones, survivors, supporters and volunteers in the fight against this disease. Stay tuned as we will share the PSA on our social media in the upcoming weeks.

The Los Angeles Chargers are long-time supporters of Susan G. Komen and the fight against breast cancer. In past years, they have partnered with the San Diego affiliate, opening the Qualcomm Stadium to mobile mammography screenings onsite at games.

Recently, the Chargers and the National Football League have teamed up in the campaign, “A Crucial Catch,” focusing on the importance of regular breast cancer screenings. During the month of October, players, coaches and referees will sport pink game apparel to raise awareness.

This year, the Chargers will support Komen Orange County and the Orange County Race for the Cure by creating team “Chargers for the Cure.” Those who register on this team will receive a commemorative Komen/Chargers wristband. Anyone who raises $125 or more will be entered to win a pair of tickets to one of the Chargers’ 2017 home games. For more information or to join Team Chargers, visit www.komenoc.org/chargers.

Lisa Wolter and Travis Benjamin

Komen Orange County Executive Director, Lisa Wolter, and Travis Benjamin at the Chargers training camp.

Benjamin invites YOU to band together and be MORE THAN PINK in the fight again breast cancer by registering for the Orange County Race for the Cure on September 24th.  This year’s event features two 5K Run/Walks (7:15 a.m. for early risers, and 9:45 a.m.), a One-Mile Fun Walk for families and kids, a Breast Cancer Survivors Tribute, and a Wellness Expo. Register online today and donate $26 to receive a limited edition I AM MORE THAN PINK medal. For more information visit www.komenoc.org/race.

What’s YOUR reason to Race for the Cure?

We all have a reason to Race for the Cure®. On any given day in Orange County, more than five women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and one will die from the disease. Chances are, one of these women is a family member, a friend, or even a colleague of yours. Indeed, breast cancer does not discriminate: It can happen to anyone, regardless of age, race and ethnic affiliation, religion, income, and even gender!

Judy’s reason to Race for the Cure is her parents. They were both diagnosed with cancer just 15 days apart during the Summer of 2015, her father with a nasal carcinoma and her mother with breast cancer. Feeling powerless, Judy witnessed them both undergoing treatments and enduring the challenges that come with it. She witnessed the first physical changes in her mom: hair first, then nails, and finally, loss of appetite. She also witnessed her mom’s resilience, her bravery and her resolution while making one of the toughest decisions in her life: getting a single mastectomy.

Judy's dad, mom and her son Jacob at the 2016 Komen OC Race for the Cure

Judy’s dad, mom and her son Jacob at the 2016 Komen OC Race for the Cure

Today, Judy’s parents are cancer free! Since 2015, it has become her family’s tradition to gather at the Race for the Cure as Team Mila. Their reason? Having experienced cancer, they understand that “even the strongest person couldn’t do it alone.” Breast cancer survivors and their families need a support system and Race for the Cure is one way our community can come together and provide this for them.

We invite YOU to be MORE THAN PINK and join us on September 24th at the annual Race for the Cure, to celebrate survivors and pay tribute to those who have lost the battle against breast cancer. Your presence and your engagement means a lot to them. It shows that you care, and it gives them hope. Hope that a world without breast cancer is possible.

Since its inception in 1991, through events like the Komen Orange County Race for the Cure®, Komen OC has invested more than $38 million in community breast health programs and has helped contribute to the more than $920 million invested globally in research. This fiscal year alone, Komen OC assisted more than 16,000 uninsured and underserved Orange County residents with their breast health care needs. Our bold goal is to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths in the U.S. by 50 percent in the next decade. We have no doubt that with your support, we can achieve it!

Whether you’re a runner or a walker, there is something for everyone at Race for the Cure, including two 5K Run/Walks (7:15 a.m. for early risers, and 9:45 a.m.), a One-Mile Fun Walk for families and kids, a Breast Cancer Survivors Tribute, and a Wellness Expo. If you can’t join us in person, you can show support by opting for virtual participation when registering online!

Don’t miss our early bird registration until July 31st! Additionally, if you register today and donate $26, you will receive a limited edition I AM MORE THAN PINK medal. If you’d like to form a team, contact Danielle Hamilton at 714-957-9157 ext. 26 or via email at dhamilton@komenoc.org for useful tips and recommendations.  For more information, visit komenoc.org/race .