“My story begins about 10 years ago when my Grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was fighting her fight as my Grandfather was fighting his with prostate cancer. The courage these two had was inspiring, yet heartbreaking. But I was in my early thirties, and breast cancer awareness was that it sucked, and I kept it top of mind with self-exams. but not a lot more.
A few years later, during a normal doctor’s visit, my doctor did a breast exam and said “Wow, that’s a mighty big lump.” Ok, not EXACTLY what you’d want to hear. And in my head I was thinking “don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry,” which didn’t work, and in a matter of minutes I was surrounded by the nursing staff and in for a mammogram within 24 hours. After a very extensive mammogram and ultrasound, it was determined it was just some small calcium deposits. It was a huge relief. Around the same time, my sister and I decided to do the Susan G. Komen 3-day walk where participants walk 60 miles in three days raising awareness and funds for breast cancer research and programs. I’ve never experienced anything like those three days. We were tired, but encouraged by the thousands walking, cheering and supporting each other. Our cousin, Sandra, did pass away from breast cancer and that is why I accepted the BigWig challenge. What I love is that 75% of the money the BigWigs raise stays local, for local programs. For people to get to a mammogram appointment, for someone like me who hears “that’s a might big lump,” but doesn’t get the same outcome I did. For families that just need someone to tell them what they need to do next while they digest and prepare for a future that isn’t exactly the one they planned for.
Please help those whose futures have shifted a bit by donating to any one of us in this year’s BigWig program. You may be helping someone you know!”
Rebecca Elkins is the co-owner of Elkins Design. You can donate to Rebecca’s BigWig page at: https://bit.ly/2PlUx54
My name is Donna Jo East and I am a breast cancer survivor! I was officially diagnosed on November 19, 2015, at the age of 44, with Stage 2b Triple Positive Invasive Ductal Cell Carcinoma. I went through five months of chemo, six weeks of radiation, three surgeries with one more still to go, and a year of Herceptin infusions. I feel so fortunate to have been one of the lucky ones to have made it through and to be able to call myself a survivor. Because of this, I feel so strongly about giving back by helping to fundraise, raise awareness, and support those still fighting and those who are yet to even know they will someday have to fight.
I remember so well the last Wednesday in October 2015. My daughter’s school, St. Boniface Catholic School, had done a “Pink Day” and a little fundraiser for breast cancer awareness. My daughter was all decked out in pink for the day and as I took her picture in front of the angel at school that morning, I had a strange feeling go through me. After I took her picture and sent her into school, I said a prayer for those that had been through breast cancer and went about my day with a gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach. At that time, I had been told my lump was nothing to worry about, but I was still waiting for my mammogram that was less than two weeks away. I will never forget that day and the feeling that I had. At that point, my cancer was the size of a small lime and I didn’t even know it. In just a little over three weeks from that day, my life and the lives of my husband and little girl, who was nine at the time, would forever be changed. We never know when we will wake up one day and our lives will be shattered by our own cancer diagnosis or that of a family member or friend. That is the reason I am so passionate about being a part of Komen and Paint the Park Pink. I feel it is my responsibility, as a survivor, to help prevent others from going through the same nightmare I had to go through. Just think, if everyone that was a survivor would get involved with raising awareness and fundraising, what a huge difference that would make! I have met a lot of people who just want to forget what they went through and some that are so bitter that this happened to them they don’t want to be in the vicinity of anything that reminds them of cancer. I choose to look at my battle with cancer differently. And I choose to make something good come of the nightmare that I endured. I am so proud to be a part of Komen for what they do locally in our communities and for what they do for research. After I was diagnosed, I had genetic testing done. I was found to have the ATM gene mutation which has been linked to an increased risk for breast cancer. This rare mutation, along with several others, have been found because of groundbreaking research. Funding for research is crucial in the fight against breast cancer. Imagine where we would be had immunotherapies such as Herceptin not been discovered.
So I ask, especially if you are a survivor, please take a moment and think about what could happen if we all joined together for this great cause and consider being a part of Komen and Paint the Park Pink. Let us all give back to those who are fighting, raise awareness for those not knowing they will someday fight the cancer battle, and honor the memory of the beautifully brave souls that have been taken from us because of breast cancer.
Meet the 2018 Paint the Park Pink Chairs
Madeline Marquette and Dawn Turner
Madeline Marquette: I have been participating with Susan G Komen Ozark Race for the Cure since 2000 with my daughter, Lauren Marquette. When Fort Smith began having the walk, Paint the Park Pink, I participated here as well. I was very glad that I was asked to help with Paint the Park Pink several years ago. I have been the chair for five years and I have worked with many wonderful committee members and sponsors. I have had many friends and co workers deal with this ugly reality of breast cancer and I have been honored to get to know so many survivors and their loved ones. I am convinced that raising awareness and money will be the Cure. Susan G Komen will find the breakthrough Cures I am sure!
Dawn Turner: I understand the importance Komen Ozark serves for our community, especially for women in need of support as they battle to survive breast cancer. On February 14, 2014, I lost one of my fabulous aunts, Pat Davis, to breast cancer. She was diagnosed in January that year and lost her battle within four weeks. I joined the Paint the Park Pink Steering Committee that fall in her honor. During my four years serving on this committee, I have made wonderful connections to our area community of survivors, which helps motivate me continue to volunteer with Komen Ozark. I have lost friends my age to breast cancer recently, and I know the pain this disease still causes in our community. There is still work needed to find a cure as well as improving methods to detect and treat patients. I love that Komen Ozark celebrates local survivors and their families. I am honored to serve as a Co-Chair on this year’s Paint the Park Pink committee to help raise valuable awareness and funds for such a tremendously-important cause. I love attending the event with my beautiful daughter Ella and mom Cathy. I feel the event allows my mom to acknowledge her sister Pat in a beneficial way. The event is a fun and celebratory event for survivors, for those we have lost, and for the hope that we will find the cure with the help of events like these.
Exciting news from Susan G. Komen!
Komen researcher Dr. Elizabeth Wellberg and her team at the University of Colorado Cancer Center has shed new light on how obesity can negatively impact treatment and lead to poorer outcomes for postmenopausal women with estrogen receptor (ER+) breast cancer.
This new laboratory research, published today in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, shows that obesity promotes the way ER+ tumors progress and become resistant to endocrine therapy through a protein called FGFR1. Though more research is needed, targeting FGFR1 could help reverse the negative effects that obesity has on treatment response, ultimately improving survival for ER+ breast cancer patients who may be overweight or obese at the time of treatment.
“Dr. Wellberg’s work shows us that to deliver effective breast cancer treatment and improve outcomes, it’s important to look at the full picture of a patient’s health, and not just the characteristics of their tumor,” said Victoria Wolodzko, SVP of Mission at Komen. “This work not only provides a treatment target (in FGFR1) which may someday help women and men facing ER+ breast cancer, but supports a growing body of evidence that weight loss could play a critical role in breast cancer treatment in the future.”
“Dr. Wellberg exemplifies why Komen continues to invest in early career breast cancer researchers with promising ideas that will help us achieve our goal of reducing the current number of breast cancer deaths in the U.S. by half by 2026,” said Wolodzko.
To date, Komen has invested more than $956 million in breakthrough breast cancer research – the largest nonprofit breast cancer research investment outside of the U.S. government.
High cost-sharing practices continue to cause a barrier to care for breast cancer patients. They can prevent them from accessing the treatments prescribed by their physicians and force physicians to make decisions based on outdated health plans rather than what is best for the patient. Patients and their physicians should be able to choose the most beneficial treatments. That’s why Susan G. Komen has long advocated for policies to reduce these insurance barriers.
Because of this tireless advocacy, patients are finally beginning to receive the treatment options they deserve, without breaking the bank. Unfortunately, we have found that most patients are unaware of these new treatment options, updated insurance policies and their options for cost-savings.
On the webinar, Representative Leding discussed the oral parity bill he filed and his journey to the passage of HB 1592 during the 91st Arkansas General Assembly – Regular Session in 2017. Greg discussed the importance of gaining bipartisan support and working with organizations with opposition to address their concerns.
Representative Leding had a host of House co-sponsors supporting HB 1592 and engaged Senators Greg Standridge, Elliott, S. Flowers, and Teague for Senate sponsors. Senator Standridge was a vocal supporter of this bill. He was battling cancer and taking oral chemotherapy drugs. Sandridge provided his own testimony on the high cost and the need for parity between IV and oral anticancer medications. With sadness, Senator Sandridge passed away from cancer at the age of 50 in 2017.
Premium Retail Services is proud to sponsor the 2018 VIPink area in the Rogers, AR Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Since 1985, Premium has propelled brands to new heights with integrity and imagination. Driven by values including family, creativity, and eclipsing expectations, Premium’s team members drive brand awareness and sales for our clients.
We proudly join this race to honor not only our survivors, but all survivors. We celebrate your joy and honor your struggles. Keep moving forward; you’ve got this.
Tina’s Story – Premium team member
On May 4, 2015 at the age of 46, I was diagnosed with DCIS in my right breast. The cancer was discovered by a routine mammogram. It had already been over a year since my last mammogram when I was reminded to have one due to my step mom being diagnosed a couple months prior. I was not expecting to receive that phone call telling me I needed further testing because something looked suspicious. I can still remember the day I was told that it was breast cancer, and I can still remember the rush of feelings that took over – so many emotions. I was told by my team of doctors that the best course of action for my type of breast cancer was to have a lumpectomy and radiation. But after two lumpectomies, we were unable to get clear margins and I would need to have a mastectomy. I opted to have a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. I had my mastectomies with expander placement on Sept. 26, 2015. I endured 4 months with the awful tissue expanders and had my final surgery to place the implants on February 22, 2016. Since the lymph nodes were clear, I did not need radiation, chemo or hormone blocking drugs.
Through it all I was told how strong and courageous I was. The truth is that I could not have gotten through it without the love and support of my amazing family and friends. It is truly overwhelming! Most of all, my husband Tim who was and still is my biggest supporter and my ROCK. He was by my side at every appointment, procedure, surgery etc. Could not have done it without him! I consider myself very fortunate that my cancer was caught so early and I encourage all women to not put that simple exam off. It truly saved my life.
I became involved with the Komen Ozark Race for the Cure several years ago with my daughter-in-law and daughter. It was long before being told I had breast cancer. That was news that I never wanted to hear especially after taking care of my mother when she was diagnosed. For me, the meaning of this organization has changed so much. I have a deeper understanding and appreciation of what they do and just how important every dollar is and how it helps with the future of so many women. Loretta
Through events like the Komen Ozark Race for the Cure®, Komen Ozark has invested $11 million in local breast health programs in our 10 county service area and has contributed nearly $3.75 million for investment in research.
This is a cause that is very near and dear to my heart. On August 9, 2010, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. On October 11, 2010 I had a double mastectomy. The cancer was worse than they thought and it had spread to the lymph nodes. 2011 was a very tough year for me as not only did I battle the Breast Cancer but just as I was finishing this battle, I was diagnosed with Lung Cancer. I had a Carcinoid Tumor in the main airway to the left lung causing it to collapse. Thank goodness, for a great lung cancer specialist in St. Louis that froze the tumor to get rid of it. Once the tumor was gone, my left lung inflated and I was breathing better!
One of the main highlights in 2011, was my first Susan G. Komen Ozark Race of the Cure. When I received my survivor shirt I thought I am not a survivor, I am still fighting this! On the day of the race, my daughter had come to walk with me along with a few co-workers. I didn’t go to the Survivor Breakfast because I didn’t feel like a survivor. We were getting ready for the Family Fun Walk and I looked over the hill and I saw the sea of pink, the ladies wearing their Survivor Shirts! I suddenly felt the awesome feeling come over me. I was one of them, I was a Survivor!! I decided then, I was going to continue working and help raise as much as I could for this cause. I certainly didn’t want anyone else to have to go through what I have been through!
It has now been 7 years since that first race and this year I will have my Sister, Daughter, 4 Granddaughters plus co-workers and friends walking with me at the race!! I am so blessed to still be here and Cancer Free!!! You can’t ask more than that!!
“When I got diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 38 it was overwhelming. I was scared and life felt fragile and unstable. After my diagnosis, Misty Johnson called me and let me know of the support and service that the Cancer Support Home provides. I received help from the “No Excuses” program, paying for some diagnostic tests since my deductible was so high. The boutique at CSH has many items available for surgery support. This wonderful team put me in contact with other community support programs that helped me through my treatments, as well as, survivor programs for myself and for my children. Thanks to the Susan G. Komen Ozark and the many organizations that benefit from the Komen Ozark funding, my cancer journey was made into a blessing.”
We are excited to announce our 2018 Kids for the Cure coloring contest winners. Representatives from Bic, our Kids for the Cure sponsor, joined us in presenting these talented 5th graders from Janie Darr Elementary their awards. A big thank you to Bic for making the experience exciting and memorable. Look for Payton’s artwork on the back of the Kids for the Cure T-shirts on Race day!
Congratulations to our winners:
1st place-Payton Smith
2nd place-Gwyneth Miller
3rd place-Lyla Besaw