My Race for the Cure Impressions

Guest Writer: Sarah Reed, Komen Missouri Communications and Marketing Intern

This year’s Susan G. Komen Greater St. Louis Race for the Cure® was the first Race for the Cure that I have ever attended. I had heard of some of my friends participating in honor of their family members who have battled breast cancer, but I had never physically gone to the Race. From pictures and videos of previous years, the Race had seemed like an incredible experience and event. I was thrilled to get the opportunity to take part in planning the event this year.

As a new member of the team, I had been anticipating the Race for the weeks I had been in the office. At Komen Missouri, there is so much preparation before the Race between new registrations, T-shirts, sponsors and beyond. Also, there were many people working endless hours to ensure that the Race was going to be a successful event. I was amazed by the dedication and commitment that the committee members and volunteers put into the Race.

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Sarah (right) and Janet before the sunrise on Komen Greater St. Louis Race Day 2016

The Friday before the Race was a preparation day. It consisted of long hours in the heat, heavy lifting, and a lot of teamwork. I focused on helping our sponsors get settled at their tent sites on Sponsors’ Row. By the end of the day, we were all exhausted, but we knew that our hard work would pay off in the morning. Needless to say, I was thrilled to see it all come together Saturday morning.

I arrived at the Race site around five am on Saturday morning. Even though I am not the biggest morning person, I could hardly wait to get to the site on Race Day. There were a large number of volunteers setting up the site such as the Survivor Pavilion and the Main Stage. I got see behind the stage, which was a really exciting experience. I also had to the opportunity to meet with the Pink Tie Guys and many of our top sponsors before they went on stage.

I think the most memorable moment of the Race was the Survivor Procession. It was very inspirational to see all of the pink shirts representing the battle and defeat of breast cancer. I loved seeing our executive director, Helen Chesnut, leading the procession. She has been a survivor for 10 years now. Watching and cheering on the survivors was a very emotional moment for me. I was able to see so much strength from our community all dressed in pink.

I also had the opportunity to stand at the finish line with last spring’s intern, Claire. Our role was to get the names of the timed participants who finished first in different categories. It was amazing to see the intense effort that the runners put into the race. It was clear to see that they put every ounce of energy into finishing the race. Their hard work represented the ongoing fight to end breast cancer for good.

Now that the Greater St. Louis Race is over, I am extremely excited to help plan our next events, including the Komen Mid-Missouri Race for the Cure in Columbia, where I will be in the fall, finishing my last year at Mizzou. I cannot wait to get my collegiate friends and peers involved with the upcoming events in Columbia.

 

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Just a Few Days Left

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Guest Writer: Helen Chesnut, Susan G. Komen Missouri Executive Director

Thank you for supporting our year-round work to help women and men facing the realities of breast cancer right here in Missouri and southwestern Illinois.

There are just a few days left for you to give a gift to Komen Missouri’s 2015 Holiday Giving Campaign.

Now is a crucial time of year to show your support and help us begin 2016 strong.

Your gift could help us:

  • Provide funding for local breast cancer screening, breast health education and outreach programs
  • Fund local community programs that provide nutritional support and patient navigation to underserved women and men
  • Fund the science that finds the next big breakthrough

You can help us make a difference! We still need $8,000 to reach our $30,000 campaign goal to support vital efforts to help those facing breast cancer.

Please make your year-end gift to Komen Missouri today.

If you’ve already given, thank you!

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

SignatureHelen

Helen Chesnut
Komen Missouri Executive Director and 9-Year Breast Cancer Survivor

Your Support Gives Strength

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Guest Writer: Helen Chesnut, Susan G. Komen Missouri Executive Director

Susan G. Komen® Missouri was founded in 1999 by dedicated volunteers fueled by a promise to save lives and end breast cancer forever. It started with our inaugural Race for the Cure in St. Louis, attracting more than 10,000 survivors, co-survivors, families and friends and raising over $300,000.

Since then, our impact on the local fight against breast cancer has been strengthened by year-round supporters – people who share our commitment to meeting the breast health needs of the women, men and families most at risk and most in need right here in our community.

Thank you for the role you play in supporting your local Komen Affiliate as we focus every day on our mission to save lives and end breast cancer forever. Your support gives strength to individuals and families – like Jeremy’s – in our community.

Jeremy Harmon’s family member found a lump in her breast at age 36 and, out of concern, she had it removed. Although it was not cancerous, as a result of the diagnosis she will now need to have an annual mammogram. This experience spurred Jeremy to take action in the fight against breast cancer.

“While our family is grateful for the outcome,” he said, “the potential impact opened my eyes to my desire to be more involved in the cause in some manner.” Jeremy is now one of our Pink Tie Guys, serving as a partner in the promise to save lives and end breast cancer forever.

Knowing that we can help families like Jeremy’s, empowering them to take charge of their health and inspiring them to take action every day, gives me strength. Your contribution will help give strength to hundreds of lives through the programs supported by our local grants.

Right now, our funding supports seven local organizations that deliver critical, lifesaving breast health services – including free mammograms and navigation through the health care system. Right now, Komen-funded researchers in St. Louis are investigating the growth of breast cell types that contribute to breast density and therefore may impact breast cancer risk.

Because breast cancer knows no boundaries and never takes a day off, I’m asking you to help continue to fight this disease by contributing to our 2015 Holiday Giving Campaign today. Through the consistent and valued support of donors like you, we are able to make a difference in the screening, care and survival of women, men and families in our community.

Your gift today could help us reach our Campaign goal of $30,000. This could provide funding for 300 mammograms or more than 1,300 hours of patient navigation. Please make a one-time or monthly donation today.

I thank you for your support!

Komen 2015 Research Grants Include $447,000 to Washington University School of Medicine

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Today, Susan G. Komen, the world’s largest nonprofit funder of breast cancer research, announced new grants to 124 researchers in 25 states and eight countries internationally, with about half of the grants targeted to early-career researchers squeezed by stagnation in federal research dollars.

The grants include more than $447,000 in new funding for research at Washington University School of Medicine, bringing Komen’s total research investment in Missouri to $22,372,092 since 1982.

The 2015 research grants expand Komen’s ongoing commitment to funding early-career scientists, that is, recent graduates and those trying to establish independent research careers. This group has been especially hard hit by real-dollar declines of as much as 25 percent in federal research funding over the past decade.

“We committed two years ago to do all that we can to ensure that talented early-career investigators remain in the breast cancer research field, while continuing our support for established researchers,” said Komen President and CEO Judith A. Salerno, M.D., M.S. “We cannot afford to lose talented scientists to other fields for lack of funding.”

This year’s research slate brings Komen’s total research investment to more than $889 million since 1982, the largest of any nonprofit, and second only to the U.S. government.

Grants from Komen’s nearly $36 million research portfolio – including more than $17.6 million in grants awarded to early-career investigators – span the entire cancer continuum from prevention to treatments for aggressive and metastatic disease. These include:

  • 36 grants to improve understanding of metastatic breast cancer
  • 18 grants investigating how tumors develop drug resistance
  • 19 grants related to the study of triple negative breast cancer – one of the most aggressive forms of the disease
  • 15 grants working to identify and understand biological and socio-economic health inequities
  • 13 grants seeking to develop new and novel therapies

Komen’s Investments in Missouri

Komen’s research program is funded in part by contributions from Komen’s nationwide network of Affiliates, which direct 25 percent of locally raised funds to Komen’s national research program. The remaining 75 percent of net funds are invested into community outreach programs that serve local women and men facing breast cancer.

“We are so proud to have the support of this community as we help our friends, coworkers and neighbors who are facing breast cancer, and work for continued progress against breast cancer through research,” said Helen Chesnut, Komen St. Louis executive director.

In Missouri, more than $452,000 will be invested into breast cancer research efforts in the state.

These funds include more than $447,000 to Adetunji Toriola, M.D., Ph.D., of Washington University School of Medicine to investigate the relationship between mammographic density and the RANK pathway, which was recently demonstrated to play an important role in the growth of breast cell types that contribute to breast density in pre-clinical studies and therefore may impact breast cancer risk.

A full list of Komen’s 2015 research grants can be found here. (Grants are contingent upon signed and executed contracts with Komen.)

In addition to funding breast cancer research, Komen has invested more than $1.95 billion into community health outreach and global programs that serve hundreds of thousands of women and men annually through breast cancer health and support programs that screen, educate and provide financial, medical and psychosocial assistance.

For more information about Komen’s mission investment, please visit komen.org.

For more information about Komen St. Louis, please visit komenstlouis.org.

Komen St. Louis Race for the Cure: Survivors Standing in Solidarity

Guest Writer: Shelby Narike, Komen St. Louis Public Relations & Marketing Intern

I experienced the big, pink whirlwind weeks leading up to the Susan G. Komen St. Louis Race for the Cure in the temporary position of intern; however, I experienced Race Day in my newly permanent role: breast cancer survivor.

Lexie Sprague and Shelby Narike, Komen St. Louis Public Relations & Marketing interns, Summer 2015

Lexie Sprague and Shelby Narike, Komen St. Louis Public Relations & Marketing interns, Summer 2015

I discovered the Komen internship opportunity because I was desperately trying to make sense of why I had breast cancer. After beginning my internship, I have learned that the why is unimportant; the how is what matters. How is this going to shape me? How am I going to use this? How am I going to make something good out of this?

I decided to make something positive out of my diagnosis by interning with Susan G. Komen, an organization that diligently fights the very breast cancer that rattled my life and continues to rattle the lives of others.

In the weeks leading up to June 13, 2015, I assisted the wonderful women of Susan G. Komen St. Louis in preparation for the 17th Annual Komen St. Louis Race for the Cure as a public relations and marketing intern. Lexie, my fellow intern, and I were warmly welcomed into the Komen St. Louis office. These first few weeks as an intern are a caffeine-fueled blur in my mind. My coworkers are magical women who somehow manage infinite tasks to insure the Race runs smoothly. Lexie and I tried our best to assist in anything and everything Race-related.

Lexie and I arrived in Downtown St. Louis at 5 am with eager anticipation of the day we had both only experienced vicariously through the memories of our coworkers. The office attire had been jeans and purple Komen Committee T-shirts all week long, but on Saturday, I transitioned from my well-worn purple tee to the pink shirt of survivors. Race Day was one day shy of the six “monthiversary” of my bilateral mastectomy and breast reconstruction. I put on my pink shirt with a brief wave of emotion at how far I had come.

Shelby and co-intern Lexie pink-ing their hair before dawn on Race day 2015

Shelby and co-intern Lexie pink-ing their hair before dawn on Race day 2015

I was diagnosed with stage one invasive ductal breast cancer on December 19, 2014 while home in St. Louis for winter break during my junior year at Tulane University. I was only 20 years old. My cancer experience has been a lucky one. I did not have to suffer through chemotherapy or radiation. At 21 years old now, I am cancer-free.

Wearing the pink survivor T-shirt was a big step for me. I spent the first few months of 2015 avoiding people. I do not mind talking about my situation, but I struggled to deal with people’s initial reactions. I felt an irrational guilt for watching people worry about me. I would much rather have cancer than have to watch someone I love have cancer. I know my loved ones feel the exact same way about me…they would rather be sick than have me be sick. I dreaded making people think that way.

St. Louis can feel so small to the point of always seeing someone who you know everywhere you go. I was sick of going out and having people ask me why I was not in New Orleans at school. I hated catching people off-guard with some variation of “Oh, yeah I’m not in school this semester because I have breast cancer. How are you?” I was tired of the shock, the sympathy, and the feeling I was ruining someone’s day. I did not want to leave my house.

Survivor Procession at the 2015 Susan G. Komen St. Louis Race for the Cure

Survivor Procession at the 2015 Susan G. Komen St. Louis Race for the Cure

Fast-forward a few months, and I’m leading the survivors’ procession at the Race for the Cure in front of thousands of people and multiple cameras. Helen Chesnut, Komen St. Louis executive director and breast cancer survivor, kindly asked me to join her in leading the procession. I was overwhelmed by the sea of pink-shirted survivors at the Race.

Raising money is not the only thing the Race does for those affected by the disease. The Race provides the opportunity for unity, for support, for awareness, for closure. The Race allowed me to be surrounded by survivors and loved-ones who were filled with conflicting relief, anger, hope, grief, comfort, pain, and resilience just like me. Not one person greeted me with shock or sympathy. I was greeted with immeasurable solidarity. We hugged, we shed tears, we breathed as a unified whole. It was in this moment that I found closure. I finally felt like I could close the short cancer chapter of my life.

It happened. It’s over. I’m standing here. We are standing here.

* * *

Shelby is a senior at Tulane University majoring in public relations and English at the School of Liberal Arts. She is a member of Chi Omega.

Komen St. Louis’ 2015 Volunteer of the Year: Renee Hall

Komen St. Louis has a small (but mighty) staff of just four people. We would not be where we are today without the extensive help of our amazing volunteers. Whether it’s a contribution of one hour or many hours of time, we appreciate the support of all of our volunteers who join us in the year-round fight against breast cancer.

Renee Hall accepts the 2015 Komen St. Louis Volunteer of the Year Award from Komen St. Louis Executive Director Helen Chesnut

Renee Hall accepts the 2015 Komen St. Louis Volunteer of the Year Award from Komen St. Louis Executive Director Helen Chesnut

The recipient of the 2015 Komen St. Louis Volunteer of the Year Award, presented at our 6th Annual Power of the Promise luncheon, is the embodiment of the passion and drive that is needed to beat breast cancer.

Renee Ribble Hall has given countless hours and invaluable service to Komen St. Louis. She has been with our organization since the very beginning — as a member of the Junior League that completed the application for the inaugural Susan G. Komen St. Louis Race for the Cure and as a member of the first Board of Directors for Komen St. Louis.

Since then, she has filled many roles for Komen St. Louis: Race Director, Race Co-Chair, Board Member, Board President. Her strong passion for the cause has motivated her to make a difference and take the lead.

At the Komen St. Louis Race, she is always one of the first people on the Race site and one of the last to leave.

She has given countless hours and invaluable service in support of the Komen St. Louis mission. She is an inspiration.

Thank you for your long-standing dedication to Komen St. Louis, Renee!

Your Support Gives Strength

YearEndAppeal_2014_web_lgGuest Writer: Helen Chesnut, Komen St. Louis Executive Director

Since 1999, Susan G. Komen® St. Louis has built a reliable reputation in the St. Louis region. This is due, in large part, to the contributions, both financial and otherwise, of people who share our commitment to meeting the breast health needs of the women, men and families most at risk and most in need right here in our community.

Thank you for the role you play in supporting Komen St. Louis as we focus every day on our mission to save lives and end breast cancer forever. Your support gives strength to individuals in our community – individuals like Tondaleia.

Florissant resident Tondaleia, age 35 and mother of three, did not have health insurance when she found a painful lump in her breast last spring. She received a free mammogram, paid for by Komen St. Louis, through one of our community partners. After an ultrasound, a biopsy, genetic testing and a double mastectomy, Tondaleia is due to finish her chemotherapy treatments by Thanksgiving.

Knowing that we can help women like Tondaleia and others in our community every day gives me strength.

As an eight-year breast cancer survivor, I celebrate the sources of my strength: family, friends, faith. I was lucky. I knew I could get a mammogram when needed. I knew where to go for breast health services. I just knew I was going to live. Not everyone is as confident when they find a lump, and that is when Susan G. Komen St. Louis can give strength.

Right now, Komen St. Louis funding supports six local organizations that deliver critical, life-saving breast health services – including free mammograms and navigation through the health care system – to those, like Tondaleia, who may not otherwise have access due to low income, lack of insurance or other barriers. Right now, Komen-funded researchers in St. Louis are working to develop personalized breast cancer vaccines, to develop drugs that will prevent breast cancer recurrence and to determine a treatment for triple negative breast cancer.

Because breast cancer knows no boundaries and never takes a day off, I’m asking you to help Komen St. Louis by contributing to our 2014 Annual Giving Campaign today. Through the consistent and valued support of donors like you, we are able to make a difference in the care and survival of women like Tondaleia.

Your contribution will help give strength to hundreds of lives through the programs supported by our Komen St. Louis grants. I hope you will consider a gift in support of our mission. Please make a one-time or monthly donation today.

I thank you for your support.