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Happy New Year and New You

Thanks to our supporters and generous donors, we wrapped up 2017 with a bang. Through our signature events like the Race for the Cure and Pink Tie Ball, and through individual contributions, we raise funds throughout the year that enable women, right here in Orange County, to detect and survive breast cancer. To date, we are proud to say that we have invested more than $40 million in education, diagnosis, treatment and support programs that serve uninsured or underinsured residents in our local community.

In 2017, we:

  • provided 8,307 free clinical breast exams to those who otherwise would not have received them.
  • provided 7,007 free mammograms to uninsured and underserved women.
  • detected breast cancer in 64 women, who would otherwise not have known about their cancer.
  • supported 86 women with financial assistance so they can finish their treatment.
  • reached 67,617 people through the year-long breast health education series.

As we look forward to 2018, we remain committed to the vision of a world without breast cancer and will continue to strive toward our Bold Goal of reducing the current number of breast cancer deaths by 50 percent in the U.S. by 2026. Here are some of the steps we’re taking to reach this objective:

Nationally, research on metastatic breast cancer (MBC) remains a priority for the Komen organization. Every 13 minutes, one woman or man dies from MBC, which causes nearly all of the 40,000-plus breast cancer deaths each year in the United States. To date, Komen has spent more than $166 million in over 400 research grants and more than 40 clinical trials focused on metastatic breast cancer. We won’t stop until we find a cure!

Locally, we’re excited for our partnership with Cal State Fullerton, working together to identify ways to enhance patient navigation services in Orange County. The goal is to ensure that breast cancer patients receive support all the way through treatment. More info to come in the upcoming months.

Individually, we invite you to Be More Than Pink and make a difference by being part of upcoming Komen events by attending, supporting, fundraising and/or volunteering! Visit the Komen’s events page regularly to get the latest updates on where we are in the community.

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Local Services + Research = Lives Saved

Earlier this month, more than 250 supporters gathered at The Westin South Coast for Komen OC’s annual Grants Award Breakfast, where $649,966 was awarded to eight Orange County organizations that provide breast health care services to men and women in the community.

2018 Komen OC grant recipients. From L to R: Komen’s Director of Mission Services Ambrocia Lopez; Komen Board member Dr. January Lopez; YMCA of North Orange County Past President Rosamaria Gomez-Amaro; Vietnamese American Cancer Foundation Executive Director Becky Nguyen; The Cambodian Family Community Center Executive Director Vattana Peong; Share Ourselves Nurse Clinic Manager Kristin Almieri; Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties Vice President of Development Laurie Rayner; Nhan Hoa Comprehensive Health Care Clinic Boardmember Duc Vuong; AltaMed Health Services Nurse Practitioner Deborah Binning; and at Breast Cancer Solutions Executive Director Jennifer Anderson.

2018 Komen OC grant recipients. From L to R: Komen’s Director of Mission Services Ambrocia Lopez; Komen Board member Dr. January Lopez; YMCA of North Orange County Past President Rosamaria Gomez-Amaro; Vietnamese American Cancer Foundation Executive Director Becky Nguyen; The Cambodian Family Community Center Executive Director Vattana Peong; Share Ourselves Nurse Clinic Manager Kristin Almieri; Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties Vice President of Development Laurie Rayner; Nhan Hoa Comprehensive Health Care Clinic Boardmember Duc Vuong; AltaMed Health Services Nurse Practitioner Deborah Binning; and at Breast Cancer Solutions Executive Director Jennifer Anderson.

The 2018 community grants recipients and their breast health programs are:

  • AltaMed Health Services
  • Breast Cancer Solutions
  • Nhan Hoa Comprehensive Health Care Clinic
  • Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties
  • Share Our Selves Corporation
  • The Cambodian Family Community Center
  • Vietnamese American Cancer Foundation
  • YWCA of North Orange County

The event highlights include a keynote by Komen Young Investigator Dr. Adam Soloff, a research health scientist at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, S.C. Dr. Soloff shared about his compelling research on the development of a novel breast cancer vaccine and new drug to block cancer cells from hiding in the body’s immune system.  If successful, this treatment strategy could not only kill existing breast cancer cells, but also produce long-term immune memory that may prevent breast cancer recurrence.

Dr. Adam Soloff presents his research about the development of a novel breast cancer vaccine at the Komen OC Grants Award Breakfast.

Dr. Adam Soloff presents his research about the development of a novel breast cancer vaccine at the Komen OC Grants Award Breakfast.

Additionally, attendees heard from a very special Komen-funded patient navigator, Cindy Phou, from the Cambodian Family Community Center. At the young age of 23, Cindy shared her story about how she is making a difference in the life of Angkearoth, a 44-year-old breast cancer patient, wife, mother and immigrant from Cambodia, who spoke very little English.

The inspirational event concluded with the presentation of the “More Than Pink Award” to two of Komen OC’s partners, Kaiser Permanente and Knott’s Berry Farm, for their loyal contributions to Komen OC throughout the years.

Find out more about Komen OC’s 2018 grant recipients here. Please note that grant recipients do not provide any grant funds directly to individuals. For information on how to navigate an individual for diagnostic breast health services through this program, click here or call (714) 957-9157.

A season of gratitude

As this year is coming to an end, we reflect back on our gratitude for the millions of dollars that you, Komen OC supporters, have helped raised in 2017; the thousands of volunteers that give their time and talent help fight against breast cancer; the hundreds of sponsors that have stepped in to make events like the Pink Tie Ball and Race for the Cure possible; and the dedicated board of directors and staff that lead this organization every day.

We’re grateful for your donations

  • Our biggest fundraiser of the year, Race for the Cure, raised more than $1.2 million this year! Since its inception in 1991, the Orange County Race for the Cure has raised nearly $40 million toward cancer research and awareness.
  • This year’s “On the Edge” Pink Tie Ball event 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.

Did you know that 75 percent of the funds raised through Komen Orange County events like the Pink Tie Ball and Race for the Cure support local breast cancer awareness and education programs right here in Orange County? The other 25 percent is allocated to the Komen Award and Research Grant Program to fund groundbreaking breast cancer research, and to support Komen researchers in their quest for a breast cancer cure.

Volunteers from this year’s Race for the Cure

Volunteers from this year’s Race for the Cure

We’re grateful for your time and service

  • More than 1,600 volunteers assisted in preparation for this year’s Race for the Cure, at booths, water stations, on the course and clean-up.
  • An exclusive group of 7 Orange County male advocates committed to the local fight against breast cancer were named Pink Tie Guys, joining 77 other Orange County businessmen and community leaders selected over the past decade.

We’re grateful for our leadership

Three members joined Komen Orange County’s board of directors for 2017-2018.  Elizabeth Chao, MD, University of California, Irvine, and Lisa Sparks, Ph.D., Chapman University, are new to the board, while Lisa E. Guerra, MD, Breastlink, is a returning member.  This addition brings a wealth of knowledge and leadership to the organization, furthering its fundraising efforts and community awareness throughout the year.

New board of directors for 2017-2018.  From L-R: Lisa Sparks, PhD, Elizabeth Chao, MD, and Lisa Guerra, MD

New board of directors for 2017-2018.
From L-R: Lisa Sparks, PhD, Elizabeth Chao, MD, and Lisa Guerra, MD

We’re grateful for our sponsors

And last, but not the least, we are grateful for our sponsors, including our third party supporters. We have developed wonderful relationships with our sponsors and supporters, and without them, we would not be able to do half of what we do.

Our 2017 sponsors include:

ABC7; The Allergan Foundation; BNP Paribas; Carol & Becky Burch; Chevron; Cox Communications; Experian; Fashion Island; First American Title Insurance Company; Greenberg Traurig, LLP; Harald Herrmann; Tari & Alain Hirsch; Holland & Knight; Hot Ticket Racing; Ingram Micro; Kaiser Permanente; Knott’s Berry Farm; Lee Ann Canaday of The Canaday Group; Macy’s; Modern Luxury Orange County; Myriad Genetics; The Orange County Register; Orora Packaging Solutions; Pacific Life Insurance Company; Park Newport Apartment Communities; Plaza Bank; Ralphs and Food4Less; Saks Fifth Avenue; Karen & Scott Sherman; Smart Levels; 100.3 The Sound; Spa Gregories; Sparkling Ice; Tom & Marilyn Sutton; Karin & Scott Wheeler; Winston’s Crown Jewelers.

A Bold Fundraising and Awareness Campaign

Recently, actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus announced on Twitter that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer. “One in eight women will develop some type of breast cancer in their lifetime,” she posted, “Today I’m the one.”

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Almost everyone has been connected to breast cancer in some way and knows the devastating impact this disease can have on their loved one and family. At this year’s Race for the Cure, Komen Orange County Executive Director Lisa Wolter announced that the national Komen organization will focus its 2017 research funding of $30.7 million on metastatic breast cancer, the most lethal form and stage of breast cancer.

Additionally, in 2018, 100 percent of new grants for Komen’s Young Investigators Program, which invites young researchers to focus on breast cancer issues, will be focused on metastatic breast cancer and treatment resistance that leads to it.

More than 40,000 men & women die of breast cancer in the U.S. each year

Metastatic breast cancer – which is breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body like the brain, liver, bones or lungs – is responsible for almost all of the nation’s 40,000 annual breast cancer deaths. Today, more than 154,000 people are living with metastatic breast cancer in the U.S., a statistic that needs to be lowered. By targeting metastatic disease, Komen hopes to reduce breast cancer deaths dramatically in the U.S.

Making a Personal Impact

For the first time, Komen is giving you, members of the public, the opportunity to directly fund specific research by participating in a crowdfunding initiative on Komen’s national website, komen.org. Komen has highlighted four pioneering researchers, who are dedicated to making discoveries that will ultimately improve outcomes for patients suffering from metastatic breast cancer, and encourage donations to their specific grants.

Woman with inspiring quote

You can also make an impact locally, which means your money stays right here in our community to help support treatment, screening and education. Help us reach our 2017 Komen Orange County Race for the Cure fundraising goal to reach $2 million by the end of October. To make a contribution, visit www.komenoc.org/race.

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 .