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!

Knott’s Screams Against Breast Cancer

For the fourth consecutive year, Knott’s Berry Farm partnered with Susan G. Komen Orange County to raise funds for breast cancer awareness and services for the local community during Knott’s for the Cure from January 9 to March 5, 2017.

In 2017, Knott’s and Komen Orange County raised more than $108,000 through the purchase of “pink” tickets, season passes and select merchandise such as “Pink” Knott’s t-shirts sold in the park. With the cost of a mammogram evaluated at $125, Knott’s for the Cure will benefit more than 800 Orange county residents who are underinsured or underserved!

Cherie Whyte, director of communications for Knott’s Berry Farm, presents a check to Jessica Rhee, Board member, Susan G. Komen Orange County

Cherie Whyte, director of communications for Knott’s Berry Farm, presents a check to Jessica Rhee, Board member, Susan G. Komen Orange County

One of the campaign’s highlights was a special event on World Cancer Day (February 4) to honor and celebrate survivors and their families whose lives have been affected by breast cancer. Knott’s and Komen OC organized a #ScreamAgainstBreastCancer Facebook contest for a chance to participate in the event featuring actress Brenda Song from CBS’s “Pure Genius,” who attended in support of her mother currently battling breast cancer. Winners of the contest screamed against all of the challenges and pain but most importantly celebrated their victories and the great triumph of overcoming breast cancer while suspended over 252-feet in the air, at the highest point of Orange County’s tallest free-standing ride, Knott’s Supreme Scream.

Brenda Song holding hands with Peanuts characters Lucy and Frieda

Brenda Song and Peanuts’ friends Lucy and Frieda

Knott’s Berry Farm also teamed up with Komen Orange County on February 22 to provide free screening mammograms, clinical breast exams and education to Knott’s employees and local uninsured and under-insured women (and men) via the Knott’s sponsored Alinea mobile mammography van. Local women who received free mammograms were also gifted free admission to the park.

Alinea Mobile Mammography Van and Snoopy

Alinea Mobile Mammography Van and Snoopy

Additionally, on Valentine’s Day, the Supreme Scream ride, towering over 312-feet in the air, turned pink and glowed for miles in honor of the Knott’s for the Cure program. Supreme Scream along with the famous Calico Mine Ride, shined across the Buena Park skyline each night for the remaining duration of the promotion.

Since 2013, the partnership with Komen Orange County has collectively raised close to $500,000 for the organization. Knott’s Berry Farm’s parent company, Cedar Fair Entertainment, has donated nearly $1 million to Susan G. Komen in the last 5 years. The proceeds raised during Knott’s for the Cure help provide underserviced women and men in Orange County with access to breast health care and services.

Home Sweet Home, New Adventures Ahead

After 16 years in Costa Mesa, we are moving! On Monday, March 27, our new address will be 2817 McGaw Avenue, Irvine, CA 92614. We invite you to join us at our open house on Friday, April 21st from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. to check out our new home and enjoy some refreshments.  It’ll be the perfect opportunity for you to tour our office, get to know us and learn about our services! No need to RSVP, just show up and say hello.

Moving boxes piling up in our Costa Mesa office

Moving boxes piling up in our Costa Mesa office

Of the 13 Susan G. Komen Orange County staff members, some have been here for 11 years, others for 11 months. Nevertheless, this move feels bittersweet as we’ve all created memories associated with this office, and the inspiring survivors, supporters and volunteers who’ve crossed our paths. On the other hand, we’re really looking forward to the new office, the exciting beginning of a new chapter in serving more women and saving more lives! Here are some of our best moments, most inspiring stories and thoughts on our new adventure ahead:

What is your best memory associated with this office?

Julie (Director of Marketing): The day I came in to interview for the position. I was so nervous driving to the office, not knowing that to expect. The interview process was nerve-wrecking and I remember telling myself, “What’s meant to be will be,” and here I am six years later loving what I do! Now, I feel like this place and my co-workers have become like a second home and family.

Danielle (Special Events & Race for the Cure Teams Coach): I have enjoyed interacting with the many different groups meeting in our conference room (Race committee, Pink Tie Ball committee, Race Teams, volunteer and survivor groups). Our Team Captain Rallies, and hearing about the inspiring stories behind their involvement with Race for the Cure are among my favorite moments in the office.

LarLeslie (Circle of Promise Community Resource Advocate): I’ve enjoyed most working with an inspiring and compassionate staff and meeting and planning with the African-American Breast Health Partnership to increase awareness and improve breast cancer outcomes in the community.

Do you have a story about an event, a meeting, an encounter that took place in this office that inspired you, touched you or had an impact on you?

Lisa (Executive Director): An event that sticks with me is a candlelight reception we held in the courtyard, where we shared stories about friends, families, and acquaintances who had been taken by breast cancer, remembering their courage, commitment, hopes and fears.

Robin (Circle of Caring/Development): Each day, we have an opportunity to change the path for someone who comes to us for help. I discovered this when a survivor, Ann, showed up at our office, devastated and in shock. She had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and was scheduled for a mastectomy very soon. She didn’t know what to do, had little understanding of her own diagnosis or treatment plan, and had no idea what to tell her 12-year old autistic daughter. I comforted her, and together we contacted her doctor’s office and learned that there was no actual diagnosis and the scheduled mastectomy surgery prescribed by her doctor was premature. I helped her schedule a new appointment with a different doctor, and I provided her with Susan G. Komen materials to help her understand her new circumstances.

Julie: The first survivor we lost after I joined Susan G. Komen was a woman named Kathy Voorhis. She was a beautiful person inside and out. My favorite memory was a photo shoot we did with her and a few other women for our Race for the Cure campaign that year. She was so hard on herself and her photos but that day, she was the most beautiful I had ever seen her. She radiated beauty through her smile, sense of humor and sincere kindness. She is dearly missed.

Kathy Voorhis

Kathy Voorhis

Jennifer (Mission Programs Specialist): One of my favorite encounters was with a breast cancer survivor who needed assistance with hairpieces, and the feeling of wholeness she experienced when we find a wig that suited her.

What are you looking forward to in the new office?

Lisa: The new office will have a very welcoming front room with a couch and chairs, wood floor and be very close to the Resource and Wig Room. It will be nice for talking privately with people needing breast cancer information or referrals. We also will have a big new training room next to an open warehouse area so I envision some great celebrations and look forward to do our Race for the Cure registration and packet pick up right from our own space.

Danielle: I am looking forward to the new office and the many ways we will be able to utilize our new training room and various multi use rooms with volunteers, supporters and survivors.

We could not close this post without thanking our generous friends at Tangram Interiors who designed our new space, provided new furniture and helped us move. Thanks to their incredible work, the new office already feels like home!

In Honor of Black History Month, Help Us Rewrite the Story

In October 2016, Susan G. Komen announced its bold goal to cut the nation’s 40,000 breast cancer deaths by half in the next decade. In order to reach this ambitious goal, Komen’s efforts will be twofold:

  • Extend breast health services to underserved and uninsured populations
  • Enhance research focus on the most aggressive forms of breast cancers

Black History Month

Did you know that African American women have a survival rate that’s 41 percent lower –sometimes even 74% in certain metropolitan area- than white women? It is about time we address this issue!

Nationwide, Komen launched the program Health Equity for All, subsidized by a $27 Million grant from Fund II Foundation. This initiative will initially target 10 metropolitan areas where mortality rates and late-stage diagnosis of African-American women are the highest. The goal: to reduce the mortality gap by 25 percent within five years in Memphis, St. Louis, Dallas, Los Angeles, Virginia Beach, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia. Baltimore and Detroit are also high-priority areas and will be included in the program over the next year.

Statewide, The Susan G. Komen Circle of Promise California initiative was launched in 2014 by seven California Susan G. Komen Affiliates to provide African American women with education and breast cancer screening. On February 27, Circle of Promise will be hosting a roundtable for a much-needed discussion on the breast health of African-American Women in our community. We are thrilled to have Shyrea Thompson, Senior Manager, Special Initiatives at Susan G. Komen as a keynote speaker. You can attend this event by signing up here.

2017 roundtable invitation

Locally, you can also make a difference by joining the Circle, and becoming part of a movement that gives all African American women access to breast health information, services and support that can save lives.

Overall, there are many ways you can support us:

  • First, speak up. Talk about it.
  • Second, make the promise to take care of your own breast health and take action, such as:
    • Talking to your health care provider about your own personal risk
    • Having a mammogram every year starting at age 40 if you are at average risk
    • Knowing how your breasts look and feel and report any changes to your health care provider
    • Adopting a healthy lifestyle to help reduce your risk of breast cancer

Help us empower all African-American women to get information, get support and gain access to services that could save their lives. Rewrite the story. Change history. Get involved today!

Calling All Heroes! Early Bird Registration is Now Open!

Register. Fundraise. Be a hero.

It’s simple – sign up today and join us for the 24th Annual Race for the Cure on Sunday, September 27 at Fashion Island in Newport Beach to celebrate survivors and breast cancer heroes. All heroes who register before May 31 receive a special early bird discount on their registration fee, with additional discounts for breast cancer survivors.

Dare to be a competitive hero? New this year is the “timing chip” to see how fast you can complete our course! Keep in mind, if you’re planning to use the timing chip, you must participate in the 7:15 a.m. Race. If this sounds like something you have wanted to accomplish, start training and fundraising in support of all the inspirational women and men battling breast cancer every day. Or, if you’re not into running, you can walk our 5K or participate in the Kid’s One Mile Fun Run & Family Walk. Either way, you’ll still be our hero.

Hero

Inspired to be a group of heroes like the Fantastic Four or The Avengers?  Consider forming or joining a Race team! All you need is a group of 10 or more heroes to join the fight against breast cancer.

The sooner you register, the sooner you can begin fundraising. All funds generated from Race for the Cure directly impact the lives of women and men battling breast cancer. That means by fundraising, you’re saving lives.

There’s a hero in all of us, and the journey to saving lives starts here: www.komenoc.org/race.

Spend the Day at Knott’s Berry Farm and Help Fight Breast Cancer!

Calling all amusement park lovers! We’re teaming up with Knott’s Berry Farm again for the second annual “Knott’s for the Cure” to raise funds for breast cancer education, treatment and research! Knott’s is offering discounted “Pink Tickets” and limited edition “pink” merchandise now through March 27 to support our mission of ending breast cancer forever. Stop by the park and enjoy Knott’s world class entertainment, attractions and Komen-inspired décor – all for a great cause.

Knott's Berry Farm For the Cure Pink Circle Logo

Our partnership with Knott’s aims to raise awareness in Orange County – and within the Latina community – where women are 20 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than non-Hispanics. By teaming up with Knott’s we hope to reach this important population, to provide life-saving mammograms and treatment options to reduce those numbers.

Last year, the “Pink Partnership” raised nearly $100,000 and with your help we hope to raise even more in 2015! 75 percent of funds raised are invested in local breast health needs and services; the remaining 25 percent benefit the Komen Award and Research Grant Program to fund groundbreaking breast cancer research.

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Join Snoopy, Charlie Brown and all the Peanut characters as advocates committed to the fight against breast cancer! We’ll see you at the park!

For Knott’s theme park information, including hours of operation, please visit www.knotts.com or call (714) 220-5200.

Follow and join the conversation on social media by using #KnottsPink and stay tuned for upcoming initiatives!

World’s Fastest Female Olympian, Carmelita Jeter, Joins 2014 Race for the Cure – Are You Ready?

Nowadays, it seems like we’re all touched by breast cancer. You may know a friend with the disease, or a family member who survived the great fight against breast cancer. Carmelita “The Jet” Jeter, a three-time Olympic medalist, has close ties to the breast cancer community and a family history, having lost her aunt and cousin to the disease.  As an influential personality, Carmelita is using her personal experience to raise awareness for this disease and to speak up for the women and men that are fighting the battle against breast cancer every day. This year, Carmelita will be sounding the official starting horn and sharing her ties to breast cancer at the 2014 Komen Orange County Race for the Cure on Sept 28.

Not only is Carmelita an ambassador for the Susan G. Komen® Circle of Promise California Initiative, a statewide campaign to address breast cancer disparities in the African American community, but she has also been involved with several other breast cancer initiatives throughout her career. Our hope is that Carmelita can inspire each of us to stand up against breast cancer – to help save lives and end breast cancer forever.

Carmelita at Komen

Are you interested in meeting Carmelita Jeter before the Race and joining Komen Orange County in the fight to end breast cancer in our community? Come out to the Registration Tent on Saturday, Sept 20, at 9:45 a.m. for a special “meet and greet” with Carmelita.

Or sign up online for this year’s Race and find out more information about the big day at www.komenoc.org/race.