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.”

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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.

EARLY DETECTION MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE, SAYS GRATEFUL SURVIVOR

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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

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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.

One Year Later…

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Today is bittersweet. On one hand, we are so excited for our upcoming Race for the Cure, but on the other hand we can’t help to remember the news we received on this day last year.  On April 28, 2015, our Executive Director, Mary Alfrey passed away after being rediagnosed with breast cancer.  As a staff, we found out about her diagnosis on the same day as the Race Office Opening and three days after the 2015 Race for the Cure she was gone.  21 Days.

At her very core, Mary was an optimist. Things were never as bad as they appeared and she always had nice things to say about each of us.  She took her initial diagnosis of breast cancer in stride and used her experience to relate to other survivors.  That’s why her passing was shocking and tough.  Mary passed away from the very disease we work so hard to defeat.  The truth of the situation that so many families face, was something that was unexpected and left us speechless.

The support that the Komen Ozark family received from so many people, some we had never met, was a true testament to Mary and the legacy that she left. It is so difficult to pick yourself up after a tragic loss, but we knew we owed it to, not only Mary and her family and friends, but to all of the women we have lost, those who were fighting their battle and to those who have yet to receive a diagnosis.  We have so much work to do, that we had to take our experience and rally around raising more money to fund research, to make sure that ALL women receive quality breast health care and to support those going through treatment or have gone through treatment.

We miss Mary. She was a wonderful mother, daughter, sister, friend and boss.  She is a constant reminder to us that our work is not done and that what we do is relevant and important.

One year later…our commitment is just as strong.

Komen Ozark Team

 

 

Judith McKenna Named Honorary Chair for 2016 Race for the Cure

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Rogers, Ark. (February 2016) – The Susan G. Komen Ozark Affiliate announced today that Judith McKenna will be the honorary race chair for the 2016 Komen Ozark Race for the Cure on April 30, 2016 at Pinnacle Hills Promenade Mall in Rogers.

Judith McKenna is executive vice president and chief operating officer for Walmart U.S. and is responsible for the company’s U.S. operations, including more than 4,600 retail locations. Additional responsibilities include the development of new formats as well as the Walmart Services, U.S. Asset Protection, Walmart Realty and Central Operations.

“We are honored and excited to have Judith McKenna serve as our honorary race chair this year,” said Lauren Marquette Executive Director of the Ozark Affiliate.  “The Race for the Cure is our largest fundraiser and provides critical funding for local women and men who are in need of life-saving services.  Judith’s support will help build awareness of the local need.”

“Supporting research, funding and care for those suffering from breast cancer has long been a passion of mine, said McKenna. “I am honored to be the race chair for the 2016 Komen Ozark Race for the Cure to help raise money to support women, men and their families affected by breast cancer in Northwest Arkansas.”

The Komen Ozark Race for the Cure raises funds and awareness for the fight against breast cancer, celebrates survivors and honors those who have lost their battle from the disease.  Participation in the event and individual fundraising help provides free services for every step of the breast cancer journey, including education, outreach, screening and diagnostic services, emergency assistance, transportation and research.

This is the 18th year the race will be held in Northwest Arkansas.  On April 30, 2016 thousands of people will come together to celebrate the strong women and men who have fought or continue to fight this disease.

75% of net proceeds is invested in the local community and provides education, screening and treatment support services to women, men and families in the 10 counties served by Komen Ozark.  25% of the net race proceeds will be invested in breast cancer research through the Susan G. Komen Research Program.

Race registration for teams and individuals will open soon.  Events include timed 10K and 5K runs, non-timed 5K and a one mile fun walk.  Registration will also be available for Bark for the Cure, Kids for the Cure, Teens for the Cure and Sleep in for the Cure.

For more information about the 18th annual Race for the Cure please visit: http://www.komenozark.org/komen-race-for-the-cure/

 

Meet Ginger Brooks-Komen Ozark BigWig and 8 Year Survivor!

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Komen Ozark is proud to feature one of our BigWigs and Breast Cancer Survivor, Ginger Brooks!  Come cheer on Ginger and watch the other 9 BigWigs walk the runway at the Pink Ribbon Luncheon on Friday, October 2 from 11:30-1pm at the Northwest Arkansas Convention Center in Springdale.  Tickets are still available at http://www.komenozark.org.

Ginger’s Story

A Mammogram saved my life!

You never know how you will react when you hear the words “You have cancer”.  I had thought about this before, and thought that I would not be able to handle it.  But on August 27th, 2007 (my son’s 11th birthday), I heard those words, and after shock and tears, we (my family and friends) put on our boxing gloves and went on to fight!

I had had mammograms before, and with dense breasts, I always got called back.  In 2007, I was late getting my mammogram appointment scheduled and my husband, Chris kept urging me to get it.  Well, they called me back for a second mammogram, and then back again for an ultra-sound, because the radiologist “didn’t like what he saw”.  Well, that turned out to be a Stage 1 diagnosis, caught early.

I had an MRI to ensure there was only 1 tumor and I was a great candidate for a lumpectomy.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get clear margins and went for a second lumpectomy 2 weeks later.  The pathology report showed that not only did I not have clear margins again, but a second tumor was found.  After much prayer and research, we decided that a double mastectomy was right for us.  We also research post treatment options, chemo, tamoxifen and determined, along with my doctors that 5 years of tamoxifen was right for me.  In 2014, I opted for a full hysterectomy to fully protect myself and starve the cancer out!

I have been cancer free 8 years now and feel very fortunate that we had great doctors, an observant radiologist, and very good medical coverage.  It is important to be a participant in your care, understand your diagnosis, and enlist your friends to help!  It takes an army of friends to help you and your family through the process.  I was fortunate to have family, friends and co-workers at my side through the entire time!

I am very passionate about everyone being screened, but not everyone has access to the care that I did and Komen helps fill that gap.  I am also passionate about finding a cure. I have a close friend who was diagnosed 2 weeks before me, she battled for over 5 years, but she lost that fight.   I also, have a younger sister and 9 year old niece, both will be watched carefully.  I pray that my niece will NEVER have to worry about battling this terrible disease.  So when I was asked to be an inaugural BigWig, I jumped at the chance!  I took my BigWig to Facebook and email, and literally around the world!  What a better way to spread the word, that we can save lives and find a cure!!!

Things to know:

  1. Get your mammogram and encourage your family and friends to do the same
  2. Be a participant in your care, know your diagnosis and understand your options
  3. Don’t go it alone. Your family and friends want to help, let them!
  4. Be gentle with yourself, recovery takes time
  5. Support Komen as they research for a cure!

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8 Things We Want Breast Cancer Survivors to Know Today

At Susan G. Komen, we celebrate those who have faced breast cancer every day of the year. But today, the 28th annual National Cancer Survivors Day, got us thinking about everyone who has ever had their world turned upside down by the words, “You have breast cancer.”

Here are eight things we want to make sure you know today, and every day:

1.    You Are Not Alone

In fact, you’re in the company of more than 3 million breast cancer survivors just in theKomen National Pic United States! And millions of family members and friends who have gone to appointments, cleaned, babysat, cooked, carpooled and so much more while their loved one faced breast cancer. Spread some love today to those who were by your side as you faced breast cancer, and if you start to feel discouraged, check out these powerful stories from women and men who have been right where you are.

2.    Life Is Different Now, and That’s OK

Breast cancer survivor and Executive Director of Komen Greater Atlanta, Cati Stone, said it best in one of our recent blogs: “People think it’s ‘life as usual’ after breast cancer. But it’s not.” You’re not the same person you once were. You may have a new appreciation for life or a surprising ability to not sweat the small stuff. You may also need time to recover physically and emotionally, so don’t feel like you have to jump back into all of your activities right away.

3.    That Lingering Fear…

… of a breast cancer recurrence is totally normal. After breast cancer treatment ends, many people are afraid they still have cancer or that it will come back. The truth is, breast cancer can recur at the original site, as well as spread to other parts of the body. That’s why it’s critical to visit your health care provider on a regular basis following treatment. There are also certain steps you can take to reduce your risk of a recurrence (#4).

Komen National Pic24.    Healthy Choices Go a Long Way

Maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise may help reduce your risk of a breast cancer recurrence. One analysis found that breast cancer survivors who got roughly three or more hours of moderate-paced walking a week had a 30 percent lower risk of death (from any cause) compared to less active survivors!

5.    For Many, Cancer is the New Reality

Women and men living with metastatic breast cancer don’t have the same treatment options as those who are diagnosed with early-stage disease. For many, the main goals of treatment are to control tumor growth and extend life, while trying not to compromise their quality of life. Metastatic patients need more: more support, more research, more awareness. To date, Komen has invested more than $133 million in over 350 research grants and clinical trials on metastatic breast cancer to understand the biology and find new treatments, while working with the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance and the Health of Women [HOW] Study to improve the lives of those with metastatic disease.

6.    There’s Always Something New to Learn

There’s a reason people say, “Knowledge is power.” By being thoroughly educated about your diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care, you can feel more in control of your life again. So, the next time you’re heading for an appointment with your physician, grab a pen and paper and consider asking some of these questions about survivorship.

7.    It’s OK to Ask for Help

Your journey with breast cancer may have brought with it a whirlwind of emotions – shock, fear, denial, sadness, anger. Thinking about insurance, finances or finding services can be overwhelming. That’s why there are programs and organizations that offer resources, support and guidance. And it’s OK to ask for help. Says one fellow survivor: “I learned that if I took a hand offered to me, there was no telling what gifts I would receive.”

8.    We Consider You Part of the Family

This organization was founded more than 30 years ago on a promise between two Survivors 2014sisters. That’s now the promise we make to you and to the world – to end breast cancer, forever. We’re working each and every day to fulfill that mission, in laboratories and in communities around the globe. And every time you lace up your sneakers to Race for the Cure (or put on a pink tie, or bake pink cupcakes or support our partners), you’re making that work possible. Learn how you can support Komen in your neighborhood and join us online to celebrate survivors today and every day!

 

 

Remembering Mary

It has been over a month since the passing of our executive director, Mary Alfrey.  Mary was an incredible leader and a passionate advocate for Komen Ozark, as well as a compassionate friend to everyone who has been touched by breast cancer.  Even when faced with an aggressive recurrence of the disease, Mary continued to devote herself to our mission of saving lives and ending breast cancer forever.  Her commitment to the cause continues to inspire us every day. Mary was more than a breast cancer statistic to us.  She was a wonderful mother, daughter, sister and friend. She was remarkable and we miss her greatly. Mary

Much Love and Pinkness!

Much Love and Pinkness-BlogHello Komen Nation!

That’s sure what it feels like here in Northwest Arkansas as we gear up for the big day on Saturday!

This time of year (and also in October, of course) I enjoy watching people express their support with all manner of pinkness.  I like to mentally give Pink Awards.  So far, “Most Creative Use of Pink” is the pink cement mixer I spotted on the road last week.  “Bravest Use of Pink” goes to Joe here at work, sporting pink trousers for our wear pink day.  “Most Clever Use of Pink” is yet to be finalized, but the pink cups in the fence at Fayetteville Post Office last October are going to be hard to beat.

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Aren’t these signs of support incredibly uplifting?!  I am so grateful for survivors, co-survivors and supporters who really put themselves out there for the cause.

Today at our work building, we had a dunk tank, a pie in the face booth, and  ’Que for the Cause (all food donated by Dickie’s!)  I watched my colleagues climb into a dunk tank  (in temperature below 50 degrees!) and goad their teams into spending more money ($5 for three balls or $20 for unlimited) to hurl balls at them and dunk them in that miserable water over and over and over.  Brrr!  Pies went for $5 each and the whipped cream was flying!

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I had a blast out in our parking lot (I finally dunked Bruce on about my eighth throw!) I am deeply touched that so many people go to such lengths to support The Cure.  I feel the same way about the incredible volunteer army we have pulling off the race!.  It looks like the weather may be bad Friday night (perhaps paying it forward for a pretty Saturday?)  A heartfelt THANK YOU to the planning and set-up teams who will make our race happens despite rain, wind, and sleep deprivation!  On behalf of all survivors…the work you do – the support you provide – makes survivorship easier and brings The Cure closer and closer.

Much love and pinkness…see you at the Race!

Marybeth

#komenozark

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*Our Guest Blogger, Marybeth Cornwell is the Honorary Survivor Chair for the 17th Annual Komen Ozark Race for the Cure.  Marybeth is the Senior Vice President of Home for Walmart United States and just celebrated her three year cancerversary.

We’ve Come A Long Way Baby!

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If you are “a woman of a certain age” you probably remember when the words “breast cancer” were always spoken (if they were spoken) in a whisper.

Did you know that in the early 1950’s, The New York Times refused to print an advertisement from a breast cancer support group? Editors objected to the use of both the word “breast” and the word “cancer”.

We hear that today and think “seriously?!”  We can think that because Komen has been the leading force in de-stigmatizing breast cancer. With conversation comes knowledge and with knowledge comes power and with power comes money and research and results. It all starts with awareness.

I am not sure I realized just how different my journey was from women of other generations until I chatted with my next-door neighbor Hope Deen.

Miss Hope turned 90 last year and she is my idol. (I am Southern and am slightly uncomfortable with calling her simply “Hope” in her presence so Miss Hope she is.)

Hope is so many kinds of fabulous that I cannot count them all. No matter what time of day I see her – announced or unannounced – she is fashionably attired (envision slim pants, crisp white dress shirts, cute flats and cheetah print accessories), with perfect hair / nails / makeup, and mentally sharper than I ever will be. Politics, fashion, celebrities, current events…she knows and has opinions on all of it. Hope FaceTimes on her iPad. Last we visited, she was planning a prank on her family. She was debating whether her Face Time disguise should be Barack Obama (she is a fervent Democrat), Sophia Loren, or Elvis – by wearing a mask she already owns.

I may have voted for the fabulous octogenarian Ms. Loren but I want to BE Hope Deen!

What I love most about Hope is that she will say exactly what she is thinking and half the time you never see it coming. For example, regarding a certain political scandal…”People just need to stop being so naïve!” (It was actually delightfully spicier than that but I can’t blog it here. Love her!)

This openness includes a wonderful willingness to tell her life stories. Hope noticed my pink ribbon car bling and we started chatting about breast cancer one day. She was so dismayed to learn I am a survivor (“but you’re too young!” – bless you Miss Hope). Then she told me her story.

Hope is the mother of three wonderful sons. When the boys were very little, she felt a lump in a breast and consulted her doctor. After referrals to specialists, Hope learned that the mass could indeed could be cancer. The standard of care at that time was to remove the lump under general anesthesia and biopsy it while the patient was still unconscious. If cancerous, a radical mastectomy would be performed and as Hope put it “my lady parts would be removed too.”

Miss Hope’s story of waking up and trying to determine if she was intact just stunned me. I knew breast cancer wasn’t spoken about much before the 1980’s, but I never followed that through…how the lack of awareness, low patient empowerment and limited scientific knowledge impacted the actual patient experience. Wow.

Yes dealing with breast cancer was hard, but I had the luxury of so many options for care (lumpectomy, single mastectomy, double mastectomy…if mastectomy, whether to reconstruct…and if so, how). I made my own decisions supported by doctors and other breast cancer professionals who, to a person, treated me with kindness and as a peer. They respected that I was educated about my disease. My own dad read every word in Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book. Thank you Susan G Komen for bringing breast cancer into the light!

Hope’s lump was benign…but the memory of that 50-plus-year-ago incident stayed with her. When she told me the story, she recalled every detail as if it were yesterday.

From fifty years ago to now to fifty years in the future…where will this journey take us? It’s up to us. My dream is that breast cancer will be taught in medical and history books right next to scurvy, and future generations of little girls will never grow up to associate their favorite color with a disease.

Let’s do everything we can this year to support the Race for the Cure with renewed purpose and urgency.

The cure IS out there. It’s past time we found it.

Marybeth

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*Our Guest Blogger, Marybeth Cornwell is the Honorary Survivor Chair for the 17th Annual Komen Ozark Race for the Cure.  Marybeth is the Senior Vice President of Home for Walmart United States and just celebrated her three year cancerversary.