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

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:

“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

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: 

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. 




Greg Leding – Presenter for national Susan G. Komen advocacy webinar on “oral parity” legislation

leding-gregHigh 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.


VIPink Sponsor-Premium Retail Services

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.


Loretta participates in the Race for the Cure because every dollar counts!

LorettaI 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.