Komen Ozark Grants $5,000 to Help Flood Victims

Komen Ozark Grants $5,000 to Help Flood Victims

Susan G. Komen Ozark works with local organization in the River Valley

Springdale, AR. June 19, 2019– Susan G. Komen Ozark announced today a new $5,000 grant to Donald W. Reynolds Cancer Support House in Fort Smith, Arkansas as part of its ongoing efforts to help women with breast cancer who have been impacted by the historic flooding in the River Valley.

Komen Ozark’s grant will help fund critical patient services to those in local shelters and other facilities to help patients who are currently undergoing breast cancer treatment receive the critical care they need as quickly as possible.  The grant will allow transportation and emergency assistance for women displaced and who need help with utilities, medication and getting to breast health appointments.

Komen Ozark serves more than 1,200 people annually in Sebastian and Crawford Counties, which have been impacted by the flooding.  Susan G. Komen Ozark has funded more than $2 million in the two counties since 1999.  With residents facing the aftermath of the historic flooding, it is important that breast cancer patients assess the care they need and to not have an interruption in receiving critical treatment. 

“We fully support our partners in Sebastian and Crawford Counties and aim to provide the care and attention to breast cancer patients,” said Lauren Marquette, Executive Director of Susan G. Komen Ozark.  “Because of the generosity of the River Valley community and their support of Komen Ozark, we are able to make this investment to ensure breast cancer patients have the breast health care they need.  It is important that breast cancer patients do not put off care due to barriers caused by the flooding.”

VIPink Area Sponsor-Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas

Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas is our VIPink Area sponsor for the 2019 MORE THAN PINK Walk.  The VIPink area is a special place on our walk venue where only the Top Teams who have raised over $2,500 or more and individual fundraisers who have raised over $1,000 can enjoy!  The VIPink Area will have special giveaways, activities and delicious food and drink options for our special guests; including VIP porta potties!
Thank you again to our VIPink Area sponsor, Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas. Read why Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas is a partner and about some of the services they provide throughout a survivor’s journey.



Less than a month after surgery to remove both breasts, Marty Brooks alternates between joking and speaking matter-of-factly about the journey she’s been on since a diagnosis of breast cancer in January. There are no tears and no regrets. She’s grateful early detection has set her on a path to spend many more years with her husband and five children.

She acknowledges there have been difficult days.

 “It’s overwhelming because you get this diagnosis and it’s like, ugh,” she said. Her care team hoped a lumpectomy would end her treatment. But after a second type of cancer was found, Marty was certain bilateral mastectomy would bring peace of mind.

“It was a hard decision. But talking it over with my husband, of course his biggest concern is that he wants me to be around for as long as I can be,” she said.

A family history of breast cancer meant Marty was vigilant about annual mammograms. Since turning 40, she went every year to the Mercy Breast Center for screening. In 2017, she skipped a year – just one of those things. Then in late 2018, the thought nagged at her that she needed to go in for a mammogram.

“God put in my mind to get my screening done. We can all say, ‘Oh, I don’t have time. I don’t want to do this. It’s painful. It’s embarrassing.’ But bottom line, unless you focus on prevention, it could be so much worse. I’m very blessed. I feel like we caught it very early,” she said.

She believes 3D technology now available likely made a difference for her, detecting cancer at an early and more treatable stage. She praised the team at the Mercy Breast Center, which offered what she called “seamless” navigation throughout her treatment. Dr. Andrea Placzek, Mercy radiologist, was “so intelligent, very supportive, understanding and compassionate,” Marty said.

Breast health navigators and even prosthetic fit specialists at Mercy’s Sisters Boutique have helped guide Marty through the process. Dr. James Irwin, the Mercy surgeon who performed Marty’s lumpectomy, called her to relate good news that her lymph nodes were free of cancer and the bad news that there was additional breast cancer.

Mercy’s care was thorough, right down to giving her the “Breast Cancer Treatment Handbook” by Judy Kneece, a resource Marty turned to regularly for information. A grant from Komen paid for copies of the handbook, part of a navigator’s salary and patient transportation over a year’s time.

Marty, now 52, has always been an advocate for mammograms. Now she’s even more vocal about encouraging those around her to get annual screenings.

“We live our lives not thinking about prevention because we think, ‘That’s not going to happen to me.’ But it can. The sooner you detect it, the easier the treatment and the better the cure,” she said.

She has some good role models. Two of her aunts had successful treatment for breast cancer and one is now 94 years old.

The Mercy Breast Center at 3101 S.E. 14th Street in Bentonville is committed to helping women with early detection by offering convenient ways to get a mammogram, especially through online scheduling. Mercy offers 3D technology exclusively, for more accurate detection for all women and those with dense breast tissue. Click here to hear Dr. Andrea Placzek talk about how how 3D mammography changes lives. For more information about the Mercy Breast Center and mammography, go to mercy.net/KomenMammogram


Komen Ozark Announces the 2019-2020 Grant Recipients at Promise Circle Luncheon

2019-2020 Komen Ozark Grant Recipients

(Springdale, Arkansas)-The Ozark Affiliate of Susan G. Komen announced on Friday, March 15 at the Promise Circle Luncheon that it will grant $403,633 to fund 6 programs that will provide thousands of women and men with lifesaving breast health screening, education and treatment assistance throughout the next year. In addition to revealing the grant recipients, Komen Scholar Dr. Kathy Miller served as the Keynote Speaker and presented about her breast cancer research.  Dr. Miller focuses on testing new therapies for breast cancer patients through clinical trials. Dr. Miller’s Komen-funded grant studied a new treatment regimen for triple negative breast cancer patients.

Top Fundraising Teams, Top Corporate Teams, Top Friends/Family Teams and the Top 25 fundraising individuals from the 2018 Race for the Cure were also recognized. 

The Ozark Affiliate raises funds through events like the upcoming MORE THAN PINK Walk™, which will be held on April 27, 2019 at the Pinnacle Hills Promenade Mall.   To register for the Walk, visit the website at www.komenozark.org.

Komen Ozark is one of more than 70 local Affiliates of the world’s largest breast cancer organization, working in communities across the U.S. to meet the most critical needs.  To help achieve Komen’s goal to reduce current breast cancer death by 50 percent in the U.S. by 2026, Komen Affiliates fund innovative breast health projects that provide vitally needed breast cancer screening, diagnostic and treatment services and support, including patient navigation, education and financial assistance.

The following programs have been selected for funding by the Ozark Affiliate.  Applicants were selected by an independent grant panel through a competitive application and review process.  For details about the Ozark Affiliate’s grant recipients, visit www.komenozark.org or call (479)750-7465.

Community Clinic (Awarded $90,000)

  • Serving Benton and Washington Counties
  • The “We Are Aware” program provides a culturally competent continuum of care for low-in­come, uninsured/underinsured patients in Northwest Arkansas through breast care education, screening, diagnostic and treatment support.

Madison County Health Coalition (Awarded $63,633)

  • Serving Madison County
  • The Madison County Health Coalition program provides a navigator to advocate for breast cancer patients and educate the community on breast health. The program also provides gas cards.

Mercy Foundation Fort Smith (Awarded $30,000)

  • Serving Sebastian and Crawford Counties
  • Provides educational outreach, navigation, screening, diagnostic and treatment funding for low income, uninsured or underinsured women and men, as well as, access to a mobile mammography unit.

North Arkansas Partnership for Health Education (Awarded $90,000)

  • Serving Boone, Carroll and Newton Counties
  • Provides comprehensive educational outreach and awareness campaigns to increase participation in breast health education classes, breast self-awareness training and access to treatment.  This program also provides screenings, diagnostic services, patient advocacy and transportation assistance.

Cox Health Foundation – Branson (Awarded $40,000)

  • Serving Stone and Taney Counties in Missouri
  • Provides access to breast care and cancer treatment for at-risk women by offering financial assistance for women in need of screening mammograms, diagnostic testing and transportation assistance.  A nurse navigator is also provided to help those diagnosed with breast cancer navigate their journey.

Washington Regional Cancer Support Home (Awarded $90,000)

  • Serving Washington and Benton Counties
  • Provides a breast health navigator and a bilingual navigator who offer specialized guidance and support to patients on their breast cancer journey.  The program guides patients through diagnosis, treatment and assistance to financial support resources as needed.
  • Also provides screenings, diagnostic services and treatment support.

About Susan G. Komen and Komen Ozark

Susan G. Komen is the world’s largest breast cancer organization, funding more breast cancer research than any other nonprofit outside of the U.S. government while providing real-time help to those facing the disease.  Komen has set a Bold Goal to reduce the current number of breast cancer deaths by 50 percent in the U.S. by 2026.  Since its founding in 1982, Komen has funded more than $988 million in research and provided more than $2.2 billion in funding to screening, education, treatment and psychosocial support programs.  Komen has worked in more than 60 countries worldwide.  Komen was founded b Nancy G. Brinker, who promised her sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would end the disease that claimed Suzy’s life.  Komen Ozark is working to better the lives of those facing breast cancer in the local community.  Komen Ozark has invested $11 million in community health programs in 10 counties and has contributed nearly $3.75 million in research.  For more information, call (479) 750-PINK or visit http://www.komenozark.org.

Recognition of Survivors in the audience at the Promise Circle Luncheon
Komen Scholar, Dr. Kathey Miller with the Komen Ozark Team
Top Team Recognition goes to the “Stores and Clubs the Difference Makers.”
Top Fundraiser and Top Survivor Fundraiser, Marybeth Hays
Komen Scholar, Dr. Kathy Miller presents about her Komen funded research
Promise Circle Luncheon 2019

SB 446 – Step Therapy for Stage 4 cancer

Komen Ozark is pleased to announce that SB 446 has been sponsored and filed by Senator Greg Leding. Komen Ozark has been working with Senator Leding on this very important piece of legislation that will not only benefit stage 4 breast cancer patients, but all metastatic cancer patients. Lauren Marquette, Executive Director, Vicki Cowling, Director of Mission Services and advocate, Torie Smith, will be traveling to Little Rock today to support and testify on this needed legislation.

We know that stage 4 cancer patients do not have the time to fail first on other cancer therapy drugs. Physicians, working with their patients, must be able to initiate the best therapy for treating advanced cancers. This also must be done without the burden of overly restrictive cost containment policies. 

This legislation prohibits a health plan from requiring a patient with stage four advanced metastatic cancer to undergo step therapy if the use of the approved drug is consistent with best practices for the treatment of stage four advanced metastatic cancer.

More about Step Therapy:

Step therapy, also referred to as “fail first”, requires a patient to first try a preferred (often generic alternative) drug prior to receiving coverage for the originally prescribed drug. 

Step therapy is a method of utilization management that health plans employ to control costs by beginning treatment with a more cost-effective drug therapy and then progressing to the newer, more costly treatments only if necessary.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care, step therapy may create barriers for members to receive medication, and ultimately result in higher medical utilization costs.  These protocols should optimize affordable, effective and appropriate access to care, not lead to delayed treatments, poor patient outcomes and increased medical costs. 

Unfortunately, most step therapy protocols rely on generalized information regarding patients and their treatments as opposed to considering unique patient experiences and responses to different treatments.

“Because stage 4 breast cancer patients, like me, don’t have time to fail first on other drugs.” Torie Smith

About Metastatic Breast Cancer:
Currently, in the U.S. more than 154,000 people are living with metastatic breast cancer. 

Metastatic breast cancer is an advanced stage of breast cancer where tumor cells have spread to other parts of the body.  Most breast cancer deaths are a result of metastasis.

Although metastatic breast cancer cannot be cured, it can be treated.  Treatment is highly personalized and must be based on decisions made by the patient and their healthcare providers, as they are most capable in determining the appropriate treatment for patients. 

Ensuring patients are receiving consistent and effective treatments is even greater in situations when treating patients with potentially life ending diseases such as metastatic breast cancer, any delays or deviations could be deadly. 

Honorary MORE THAN PINK Walk Chairs- Todd and Dee Harbaugh

Todd and Dee Harbaugh

New Name, New Approach Improves Experience and Connection to Komen’s Lifesaving Work

February 5, 2019– The Susan G. Komen Ozark Affiliate announced today that Todd and Dee Harbaugh will serve as the Honorary Walk Chairs for the 2019 Susan G. Komen Ozark MORE THAN PINK Walk™ on Saturday, April 27, 2019 at Pinnacle Hills Promenade Mall in Rogers.

Todd Harbaugh is currently the Executive Vice President -Walmart U.S. Supercenters.  He and his wife, Dee, are active members of the Northwest Arkansas community.

“We are both honored and thrilled to have Todd and Dee Harbaugh serve as our Honorary Walk Chairs this year,” said Lauren Marquette, Executive Director of the Ozark Affiliate.  “We are excited to bring the next evolution in the history of the Race for the Cure® series to Northwest Arkansas in order to increase people’s connection to our mission and raise funds to provide critical support for local women and men who are in need of lifesaving services.  Todd and Dee’s support will help us move beyond awareness in order to do more for our community.”

“We are honored to be this year’s Honorary Chairs.  It’s exciting for us to see the community come together to support such an incredible cause,” said Todd Harbaugh. 

The Komen Ozark MORE THAN PINK Walk™ event, will bring a fresh new look and experience focused on energizing the community around the lifesaving work Komen’s supporters make possible.  The Susan G. Komen organization is the only breast cancer organization that fights breast cancer on all fronts.  The way in which the Komen Ozark does so will be reflected in the four pillars at the event- Research, Care, Community and Action. Participation in this event and individual fundraising help provide services for every step of the breast cancer journey, including education, outreach, bilingual breast health navigation screening and diagnostic services, emergency assistance, transportation and research.

“We’re excited about this new chapter and encourage everyone to register and begin fundraising!  We look forward to seeing everyone on Saturday, April 27 for a day of community and hope in support of all those living with breast cancer, and those who have survived, and to remember and celebrate the lives we’ve lost to the disease,” added Marquette.

For more information on this event, to register and what changes to expect, please visit us online at www.komenozark.org.

About Komen Ozark

The Ozark Affiliate of Susan G. Komen is dedicated to combating breast cancer at every front.  Since its inception in 1998, the Ozark Affiliate has awarded $11 million to local organizations that provide bilingual breast health navigators, breast health education and breast cancer screening and diagnostic testing and emergency and treatment assistance for medically underserved women.  In addition, $3.75 million has been invested in Susan G. Komen’s Research program that targets breakthrough research to prevent and cure breast cancer.  The Komen Ozark Affiliate’s service area covers Benton, Boone, Carroll, Crawford, Madison, Newton, Sebastian, and Washington Counties in Arkansas and Stone and Taney Counties in Missouri.

Komen Ozark to Premier New MORE THAN PINK Walk Event in 2019


Komen has been hard at work on the next evolution in the history of the Race for the Cure® series, and residents of Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley will be among the first in the country to see it!

Komen Ozark has selected to be one of twenty-six locations across the country to launch the new Susan G. Komen MORE THAN PINK WalkTM event, which along with a new name will include a fresh new look and experience focused on energizing the community around the lifesaving work Komen’s supporters make possible.  This new approach is based on input from participants across the country, data from nine pilot events in 2018, and by Komen’s own observations from years as the leader in breast cancer walks.

“Much of what you have come to love about the Race will continue with our new MORE THAN PINK Walk,” said Executive Director, Lauren Marquette. “These changes are intended to increase people’s connection to our work beyond breast cancer awareness.  Together, we are more than pink–a community of people who want to do more for research, more for our communities, more for those among us who are living with breast cancer – including metastatic breast cancer – and more action to get us to cures.”

The biggest difference is that the MORE THAN PINK Walk will not have a separate timed run element, focusing instead on the vast majority of the event’s participants who walk, rather than run, during the event historically. This change will create a greater sense of community among participants and will provide a more personalized, emotional experience for all who attend.

Komen Ozark MORE THAN PINK Walk

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Pinnacle Hills Promenade Mall, Rogers

 Register Online Now:  www.komenozark.org

“We’re excited about this new chapter and encourage everyone to register and begin fundraising!  We look forward to seeing everyone walking on Saturday, April 27 for a day of community and hope in support of all those living with breast cancer, and those who have survived, and to remember and celebrate the lives we’ve lost to the disease,” added Marquette.

For more information on this event and what changes to expect, please visit us online at http://www.komenozark.org.

Meet BigWig Rebecca Elkins!

“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 

Donna Jo’s Story

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.

Paint the Park Pink Chairs are passionate volunteers!

PTPP Chairs

Meet the 2018 Paint the Park Pink Chairs

Madeline Marquette and Dawn Turner

Miss Madeline.pngMadeline 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 Dawn.pngthey 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!OBESITY - Dr. Wellberg (2)

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.