A New Year, A New Chapter


Guest Writer: Helen Chesnut, Komen St. Louis Executive Director


I keep saying it over and over again, as if to convince myself that it really is going to be a new year in a few hours. I’m that person who reads the final chapter of a book first and then goes back to the beginning. “Why?,” you ask. Because, my friends, there is something comforting about knowing how the story ends before reading through each chapter. Yes, there are times I wish I could handle the new year this way.

In a perfect year, every woman would get the breast health screening she needs and never would there be a phone call saying, “I’m sorry, but it is breast cancer.” Every breast cancer detected would be found early, because we know the earlier the diagnosis the better the outcome. Access to care would always be available, since there would be no financial, educational or time barriers. Our Komen St. Louis community partners would have a fleet of mammography vans in every high risk area, from rural counties to the City of St. Louis and southwestern Illinois. And at the end of the year, breast cancer would be CURED right here in St. Louis! WOW… wouldn’t that be something? I like that idea!

Now back to reality…. I may not know exactly what is going to happen in the next 365 days, but here is what you can count on: Komen St. Louis will continue to be the St. Louis resource for all things breast cancer. If you need a screening mammogram because you have no insurance or are underinsured, call us (314.569.3900) and we will make sure you are connected to a place to get that done. If you need information about the risk factors for breast cancer or breast self-awareness steps, call and we will talk you through them, or – better yet – get a group together and one of our Komen Ambassadors will present our Breast Cancer 101 program. Knowledge is power, and knowledge is how we can change how this “book” ends.

Please consider joining Komen St. Louis in the fight against breast cancer in 2013, whether with your time, your talent or with a donation. Be a part of the next chapter in the fight against breast cancer.

On a mission to help those in need and find the cures,


Komen St. Louis Community Partner: Jefferson Regional Medical Center’s Breast Health Awareness and Screening Program for Women in Rural Southeastern Missouri


Community Partner

Helping underserved women gain access to mammograms and, if necessary, treatment for breast cancer hits close to home for Anita McEntire. She is a Breast Health Navigator at Jefferson Regional Medical Center who also has had to navigate through the journey of breast cancer in her own life.

“I’m a five-year breast cancer survivor myself,” says Anita. “I was an uninsured mother of three, and it was a struggle. I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what I’ve been through.”

Anita uses her personal experience to guide her as the Program Director of the Breast Health Awareness and Screening Program at Jefferson Regional. To promote breast health awareness and the early detection of breast cancer, this program provides comprehensive breast health education, screening and support for underserved, uninsured women in rural Jefferson, Perry, Ste. Genevieve and Washington counties.

“We provide clinical breast exams, diagnostic testing, imaging services, breast ultrasounds and biopsies for our patients,” says Anita.

Funding from Komen St. Louis makes these services available for women in need. This is the ninth year of Komen St. Louis funding for this program.

In just the last six months, the program has served more than 100 women. This accomplishment is evidence that women are in need of such a support system, to help with everything from screening mammograms, which aid in the early detection of breast cancer, to treatment after a breast cancer diagnosis. The program’s resources, combined with her own breast cancer experience, assist Anita in reaching women in rural southeastern Missouri.

“Our mission is in alignment with Komen’s mission,” says Anita. “We make sure women have access to breast health services.”

In 2012, Komen St. Louis granted nearly $3.1 million to 25 local breast health programs in our 17-county Missouri/Illinois service area, including Jefferson Regional Medical Center’s Breast Health Awareness and Screening Program for Women in Rural Southeastern Missouri. These grants help fund breast health and breast cancer screening, treatment, education and support services for those in our community who otherwise may not have access due to low income, lack of insurance or other barriers.


Why I Volunteer for Komen St. Louis


“There have been so many close friends of mine who have been touched by breast cancer, some who lost their battle and many who keep fighting. I wanted to give back my time and talent for such a great cause. Komen has done such great work serving our community, and I wanted to share my passion and efforts for finding a cure!”

– Carrie Buchanan, Komen St. Louis Board Member

Komen St. Louis Community Partner: The Breakfast Club’s Education, Awareness, Resources, Support (E.A.R.S.) Program

CommunityPartnerImage“When I was diagnosed in 1992, I thought having breast cancer was the worst thing that could happen to me, but it’s actually changed my life. It’s become a passion in my life,” says Sherrill Jackson, Founder and President of The Breakfast Club, Inc.

As a 20-year breast cancer survivor, Sherrill knows a thing or two about the joys and pains of living with the disease. Through her experience, she recognized a need for a breast cancer support group in the community. This inspired her to establish The Breakfast Club, a group of women dealing with breast cancer and coming together to lift up one another.

“Most of the women in our group are breast cancer survivors,” says Sherrill.

Komen St. Louis funding for The Breakfast Club’s E.A.R.S. (Education, Awareness, Resources, Support) program helps provide bras and breast prostheses. Women who have had mastectomies and who are uninsured or underinsured are sent to the Medical West Breast Prosthesis Center for fittings and provided with bras and prostheses. The program is helping to restore the self-esteem of many women who have undergone mastectomies. This is the 12th year of Komen St. Louis funding for this program.

“Many of the women are overwhelmed that they go there with no money and get professionally fit, and Komen funding provides that for them,” says Sherrill. “We get lots of letters and cards from the women who were helped, saying they have a new lease on life now.”

In 2012, Komen St. Louis granted nearly $3.1 million to 25 local breast health programs in our 17-county Missouri/Illinois service area, including The Breakfast Club’s E.A.R.S. program. These grants help fund breast health and breast cancer screening, treatment, education and support services for those in our community who otherwise may not have access due to low income, lack of insurance or other barriers.

12 Reasons to Support Komen St. Louis on 12.12.12 (and Every Day)


1. When you support Komen St. Louis, you’re supporting 25 local organizations that deliver life-saving breast health services to women, men and families in our community.

2. We all know someone whose life has been touched by breast cancer – a loved one, a friend, a coworker.

3. Because of your support, last year Komen St. Louis funded more than 11,000 screening mammograms for women in our 17-county Missouri/Illinois service area who otherwise could not afford them.

4. Komen has granted more than $20 million to research facilities in St. Louis for groundbreaking breast cancer research.

5. Every 74 seconds, somewhere in the world, someone dies from breast cancer.

6. Komen St. Louis is here when you need breast health and breast cancer resources. If you need help paying for a mammogram, if you or someone you know is diagnosed with breast cancer…we’re only a phone call away (314.569.3900).

7. Last year, Komen St. Louis funded diagnostic services for more than 2,200 women in need.

8. More than 100 percent of the funds raised by Komen St. Louis since 1999 have come back to St. Louis.

9. 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.

10. Men get breast cancer, too. Approximately 2,190 new cases of breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men this year in the U.S.

11. There are more than 2.9 million breast cancer survivors alive in the U.S. today.

12. There are still too many women and families in our community who need our help.

We know you have your own reasons for supporting the local fight against breast cancer. We can’t do this without you. Please Give Thanks and Give Back to Komen St. Louis today. We appreciate your support every day of the year. Thank you!

A Survivor’s Story: Sheila Leutzinger

In October 2011, while leaving her local Walmart in Festus, Mo., Sheila Leutzinger noticed the Missouri Baptist Medical Center mammography van in the parking lot. Theresa Taylor, an outreach coordinator for the hospital’s Breast HealthCare Center and a two-time breast cancer survivor, happened to catch Sheila’s attention and asked her if she needed a mammogram.

Thanks to a grant from Komen St. Louis, the hospital’s mammography van travels to neighborhoods across St. Louis and to towns in rural Missouri, helping women who have no insurance or high deductibles and are unable to afford a mammogram. If further care is needed, Theresa and her coworkers help these women navigate their care.

Sheila Leutzinger and Theresa Taylor

Sheila Leutzinger and Theresa Taylor

“We regularly take the van out and educate women on what is normal for them and their bodies,” says Theresa. “Our goal is to help women who have limited means. What we often see is that, when it comes to caring for their own health by having a mammogram, it’s typically the first thing women do without.” 

In Sheila’s case, it had been eight years since her last mammogram. Like a lot of uninsured women, it wasn’t a top priority. So when Theresa told Sheila about the free mammography, she figured she should take advantage of the service. At the time, however, Sheila was carrying groceries that needed to be refrigerated so she couldn’t wait for the screening. She decided to make an appointment instead.

A couple of weeks later, Sheila visited the mammography van for her mammogram, which revealed a suspicious mass in her right breast that required further testing. Theresa referred Sheila to Missouri Baptist Medical Center for a biopsy, which revealed she had breast cancer. Sheila then underwent an MRI and breast ultrasound, which identifed another mass in her left breast, requiring additional biopsies.

On Dec. 27, 2011, Sheila arrived at the hospital for her surgery, where doctors removed the mass in Sheila’s right breast and performed a more throrough biopsy on the left breast. This latest biopsy also tested positive for cancer, which required another surgery in January 2012 to remove lymph nodes on her left side.

Sheila is doing well today, and her prognosis is good. In fact, her oncologist has given her a 92 percent chance of making a full recovery. Sheila is on cancer medication for the next five years, and she finished 32 rounds of radiation this past summer.

“Like me, my closest friends neglected to get their regular mammograms,” says Sheila. “Because of my experience, two of them booked their mammograms the day after my surgery and promised to undergo regular mammograms from now on. That was the silver lining for me.”

Komen St. Louis Community Partner: Christian Hospital’s Protecting and Healing Women Program

CommunityPartnerImageIn the past year, nearly 400 uninsured or underinsured women have been served through the Protecting and Healing Women program at Christian Hospital with the help of Komen St. Louis funding. The program is providing women in need with screening mammograms and patient navigation to guide them throughout testing and treatment.

“There’s a need for it. There are so many women falling through the cracks,” says Patricia Polk, Outreach Coordinator at Christian Hospital. “We have had two women within the last six months diagnosed with breast cancer who would not have been helped without this program.”

These women have been so impacted by the program that they go on to tell friends and coworkers about it. This generates an awareness of breast cancer in the community. With the support of a strong outreach staff, Patricia is able to back up the program’s word-of-mouth promotion with professional service and care.

“If I can save one life, I would have done my job,” says Patricia. “My vision is to see the program grow.”

The program is heavily invested in the community, with a focus on reaching out to women facing hardships such as unemployment and lack of transportation or child care. Patricia and her outreach staff also help navigate patients through the process of additional testing and treatment as needed. This is the fifth year of Komen St. Louis funding for the Protecting and Healing Women program.

“It gives me great honor and great pleasure to help these women,” says Patricia. “I don’t even want to begin to think of what would happen to those two women who have been diagnosed. There are so many more women to reach. The program is helping tremendously.”

In 2012, Komen St. Louis granted nearly $3.1 million to local breast health programs in our 17-county Missouri/Illinois service area, including the Protecting and Healing Women program at Christian Hospital. These grants help fund breast health and breast cancer screening, treatment, education and support services for those in our community who otherwise may not have access due to low income, lack of insurance or other barriers.

Close Friendships Inspire Giving Back

Guest Writer: Nancy Tonkins, Member of River Queens

Our River Queens group has been assembling for 30 years! It all started with a group of friends who played softball together – some went to the same high school (Kirkwood). We started float-trip and camping weekends back then, overnights on the river. Through the years, various people have joined the group and some have left or moved on. The same “core” people still attend and now invite others. As we’ve gotten older, we no longer camp; we have progressed to condos on various lakes and pontoon boats instead of canoes. We’ve gone with as few as 10 to as many as 32 River Queens. We’ve all formed an amazing bond. And, we’re there for each other – always.Print

Which brings me to the purpose of this story: we know loss. Unbearable loss. We also know strength and courage and tenacity, as we have been there with two from our tight-knit group who have lost their battles with breast cancer. We have walked in the Komen St. Louis Race for the Cure together and have raised money that way. We have given independently to Komen. However, we know there is more money generated when we encourage each other to donate. So we are now trying to collect more as a group.

As we’ve moved forward, we’ve thought about the funds we spend on making our River Queens weekends fun – the silly trinkets, baubles, souvenirs, crazy hats – and we’ve decided that we need to use this money more wisely…to give back in some way. We have decided that any kind of “slush fund” from our trip or any money we raise as part of our internal contests for the weekend should go to breast cancer research and breast cancer support. That’s why we gave to Komen this year.


The River Queens

We hope we may be able to inspire other women’s groups – who organize getaways together, play tennis together, went to high school together, or simply go to dinner together once a month – to join us in finding a way to support others in the fight against breast cancer. And we hope they, like our group, will remind each other to follow breast self-awareness steps and get annual mammograms.

When you sit around the room together, it’s hard to imagine losing another friend. And yet, chances are high that you will. Women know that as they get older, the risk increases. We encourage other groups of friends to consider a way to help fight for each other and fight to end this disease for their children’s sake as well.