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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.

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’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!