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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.

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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.

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.

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 .

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!

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.

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!