Komen Missouri Community Partner: Mercy Health Foundation of St. Louis’ Breast Cancer Screening and Education Program


The Breast Cancer Screening and Education Program at Mercy Health Foundation of St. Louis works with community agencies to help identify and schedule uninsured and underinsured, low-income women for breast screenings.

The program provides free mammograms and clinical breast exams, and educates about breast self-awareness at Mercy Breast Centers and in local communities through a mammography van. During screening events, a Nurse Navigator/Nurse Practitioner provides clinical breast exams, educates and provides care.

Angela Ruppel, the program’s project director and manager, explains that Susan G. Komen Missouri, “provides funding for mammograms and breast health services, clinical breast exams, breast self-awareness education and the availability of a mammography van and Nurse Navigators/Nurse Practitioners to assist and coordinate care for the uninsured and underinsured women in the community.”

Angela recalls a patient referred to the program who was “an uninsured 33-year old…single mom raising two children, working part time and going to school full time.”

The patient discovered a lump and was scheduled for a breast exam by Nurse Navigators/Nurse Practitioners, and then had a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound.

“Due to this program and generous funds from Komen Missouri, the patient was able to have her diagnostic testing completed, which showed two solid masses,” says Angela.

The patient was scheduled for a consultation and had a breast biopsy. She was positive for invasive ductal carcinoma, underwent a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction. Angela says this woman “now has continued with her schooling and has hope for the future for both her and her family.”

This is the 13th year of Komen Missouri funding for this program.

Susan G. Komen Missouri’s community grants help fund local breast cancer screening, breast health education and patient navigation and support services for those in our community who otherwise may not have access due to low income, lack of insurance or other barriers.

Call for Applications & Nominations: 2015 Komen St. Louis Pink Tie Guys

Komen St. Louis Pink Tie Guys are partners in the Komen promise to save lives and end breast cancer forever. The Pink Tie Guys are leaders who attest to the powerful fact that breast cancer is a disease that knows no boundaries and who bring a male voice to the urgency of finding a cure. These men prove themselves as givers in the cause to fight breast cancer. These men are not afraid to wear pink, for they know pink is a symbol of hope, courage, strength and survivorship.

Who: Each year, a select group of men in the St. Louis region are invited to serve as Pink Tie Guys, outstanding ambassadors and advocates for breast health action and breast cancer awareness. The Komen St. Louis Pink Tie Guys are leaders who can help mobilize, energize and engage individuals and groups in the breast cancer movement through their role within the community, within their companies and organizations, and through their personal involvement.

What: Pink Tie Guys bring personal stories that highlight how men’s lives are touched by breast cancer. They support and draw attention to the Komen promise and the work of Komen St. Louis by wearing their signature Komen pink necktie and speaking out about the importance of doing everything possible to support breast cancer survivors and those affected by the disease, and to find the cures for breast cancer.

Where: Komen St. Louis Pink Tie Guys live and/or work in the Komen St. Louis 17-county Missouri/Illinois service area (St. Louis City and the Missouri counties of Franklin, Jefferson, Lincoln, Madison, Montgomery, Perry, St. Charles, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, St. Louis, Warren, Washington; Clinton, Madison, Monroe and St. Clair counties in Illinois).

When: Pink Tie Guys attend and participate in Komen St. Louis events and other related activities throughout the year, as their schedules allow. They speak out in their community about breast health and work to engage their friends, families and coworkers in the fight against breast cancer.

How: Each Pink Tie Guy is expected to represent Komen at local events and Komen St. Louis events by wearing his Komen pink tie (provided by Komen St. Louis) or other Komen apparel and advocating for Komen St. Louis in an honest and informative manner. Each Pink Tie Guy is also asked to help with Komen St. Louis fundraising efforts in some way, big or small.

Why: Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women and 1 in 1,000 men in their lifetime. Pink Tie Guys help Komen St. Louis fight this disease. Together, Pink Tie Guys and Komen St. Louis work to inform, influence and inspire our community and raise funds to help end breast cancer forever.

Do you have what it takes to be a Pink Tie Guy? Do you know someone who is Pink Tie Guy worthy?

Complete the 2015 Pink Tie Guys application/nomination form.

Webinar Wednesday | September 24: Progress Towards a Cure for Breast Cancer

WebinarWednesday_2014Join Susan G. Komen® and Susan G. Komen St. Louis as we kick off National Breast Cancer Awareness Month with the first of several informative webinars over the next six weeks:

Progress Towards a Cure for Breast Cancer: Small Steps and Big Leaps

Wednesday, September 24

11:30 am to 12:30 pm CT

Click here to register for this webinar.

Presented by Dr. George Sledge | Professor of Medicine and Pathology, and Chief of the Division of Oncology in the Department of Medicine at Stanford University

Hosted by the North Central Region of Susan G. Komen

While we are making real progress, the cure has been an elusive goal in breast cancer, particularly in the setting of advanced disease. Where are we today, and where are we headed in the near future? How can we use the emerging technologies of genomics and tumor immunology to improve the lot of breast cancer patients? And what is Susan G. Komen’s role in the emerging biologic revolution that will transform breast cancer care?

Dr. George Sledge

Dr. Sledge is recognized internationally for his work in breast cancer research and treatment. A clinical trialist and pioneer in the development of novel therapies for breast cancer, Dr. Sledge directed the first large, nationwide trial that studied the efficacy of paclitaxel as a therapy for advanced breast cancer. Since then, he has served as the principal investigator for many nationwide clinical trials involving new therapies for breast cancer. His research focuses on molecular and tumor biology, growth factors and anti-angiogenic therapy. With his Komen-funded grant, Dr. Sledge is searching for new, druggable targets in triple negative breast cancers, investigating the process of angiogenesis (tumors forming new blood vessels) and identifying genetic clues that will help us better understand how this occurs. He is also evaluating new technologies that capture tumor cells circulating in the blood stream, which may provide doctors with better tools to understand and treat metastatic breast cancer.

When asked about his partnership as a Komen Grantee, Dr. Sledge replied: “Komen’s role is not just at a funder of research, but as a convener of researchers. We bring researchers together at our Scientific Advisory Board, at our Komen Scholars meeting, in our study sections that judge the merits of grants, and in the grant applications themselves. We are an eminently social organization: we actively create the “Great Weave” of breast cancer research. And that is why I love working with Susan G. Komen.”

Click here to register for this webinar.

Komen-Funded Research: Using the Tumor DNA Blueprint of Breast Cancer Patients as a Key to Personalized Medicine

While there is not yet “a cure” for breast cancer, Susan G. Komen®’s continuous support of breast cancer research has led to many breakthroughs, including that breast cancer is no longer considered to be one disease, but rather a family of diseases; and better patient care, with new approaches and therapies to treating all types of breast cancers.

Historically, the vast majority of breast cancers have been treated the same way, with a standard regimen built around surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Very inadequate, therapeutic approaches have now been better tuned to the different types of breast cancers. Yet, research shows that patients who have the same type of breast cancer could still present significant differences when their tumors are further analyzed at the molecular level. That reality is what gave rise to personalized medicine: an approach that allows patients to receive treatment plans specifically tailored to them, instead of having to undergo treatments that have not been optimized for their specific type of cancer. And why our continuous support of cancer genomics is critical.

This exciting area of research has already led to better tools to manage breast cancer in a number of ways. In addition to discovering the different biological subtypes of the disease, it has brought the design of new targeted treatments, such as trastuzumab. For many years, the drug was only used to treat metastatic breast cancer, but it is now be used to treat early-stage HER2-positive breast cancers.

However, there is still much to be learned from the vast amount of information recently generated on the genetic code of breast cancer. For example, Komen will fund a study led by Dr. Richard Myers at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology that will analyze DNA blueprints from individual patients’ tumors with the goal of providing patients with the best treatment options available, and personalized to their specific tumor.

In another Komen-funded study, Dr. Christina Curtis at the University of Southern California will investigate differences in the genetic material of HER2-positive tumors before and after treatment with trastuzumab to develop a tool that will predict treatment resistance in patients receiving that drug. Dr. Curtis will then use this knowledge to design new therapies that will overcome resistance to trastuzumab.

Komen also will continue to support Dr. Andrea Richardson at Harvard Medical School. She is investigating whether mutations beneficial to tumors could be linked to increased autophagy, literally “self-eating.” Autophagy is a nutrient recycling process that is co-opted by tumor cells to feed their voracious appetite for growth. Insights into autophagy in tumor cells could be translated into new treatments that will weaken the autophagy progress in breast cancers presenting with specific DNA abnormalities that create an abnormal reliance on this process.

Komen is also funding groundbreaking, genomics-related breast cancer research right here in St. Louis at Washington University.

At Susan G. Komen, we are relentless in our pursuit of ending breast cancer forever.  The path to finding the cures might be long, and it might be hard. But 30 years ago, we embarked in a race that we must finish. By significantly investing in cancer genomics research, we will bring new and improved personalized treatments to breast cancer patients around the world. And with each new breakthrough, we will get one step closer to fulfilling our promise.

Real World Research

Susan G. Komen® has sustained a strong commitment to supporting research that will identify and deliver cures for breast cancer. This long-term commitment has resulted in important progress that has contributed to major advances in breast cancer since Komen’s founding in 1982. With increasing investments over time – now totaling over $800 million – Komen is the largest non-government funder of breast cancer research in the world.

Our research focus has evolved over the years. In the beginning we focused on understanding the basic biology of breast cancer. As we learn more about the factors that make cancer cells grow and spread, we are able to invest more in the translation of this knowledge into treatment, early detection and prevention.

Our focus is to support work that has significant potential to lead to reductions in breast cancer incidence and mortality within the decade.

Our work isn’t done until our vision of a world without breast cancer is reached.

Susan G. Komen:

  • began with a single grant for $28,000 in 1982
  • has funded research each year since we began
  • has invested more than $800 million in research since 1982 to support over 2200 research grants
  • is the largest non-government funder of breast cancer research in the world
  • currently manages over 500 active research grants totaling over $285 million
  • has supported a broad range of research from basic biology to treatment to      survivorship

Link to 2013 Research Fast Facts: http://ww5.komen.org/uploadedFiles/Content/ResearchGrants/GrantPrograms/Overview%202013%2010.17.13%20JM.pdf

Link to HER2 Research Fast Facts: http://ww5.komen.org/uploadedFiles/Content/ResearchGrants/GrantPrograms/Research%20Fast%20Facts%20FY10%20-%20HER2.pdf

Link to Metastasis Research Fast Facts: http://ww5.komen.org/uploadedFiles/Content/ResearchGrants/GrantPrograms/Metastasis%2010-24-2012.pdf

Link to Triple Negative Breast Cancer Research Fast Facts: http://ww5.komen.org/uploadedFiles/Content/ResearchGrants/GrantPrograms/TNBCFINAL.pdf

Link to Vaccine Research Fast Facts: http://ww5.komen.org/uploadedFiles/Content/ResearchGrants/GrantPrograms/ResearchFastFactsVaccine.pdf

It’s a Fact: Progress Has Been Made Toward Finding Breast Cancer Cures


Over the past 30 years, significant advances have been made that have led to decreased mortality and increased survival rates for those diagnosed with breast cancer.

Progress in both early detection and treatment has led to improved survival for people of all ages and races, and with all stages of breast cancer. Between 1990 and 2009, breast cancer mortality declined by 33 percent among women in the United States.

And 30 years ago, the five-year relative survival rate for early stage breast cancer was about 74 percent. Today, this number has increased to 98 percent.

Great progress has been made in the early detection and treatment of breast cancer. As a result, the number of breast cancer survivors continues to rise.

For more information about Komen’s commitment to research and the progress that’s been made, please visit http://ww5.komen.org/ResearchGrants/GrantPrograms.html

Breast Cancer Survivorship, Then and Now

Over the past 30 years, much progress has been made in the fight against breast cancer and toward increasing breast cancer survivorship. More than three decades ago, when Suzy Komen was told she had breast cancer, people wouldn’t even say the words “breast cancer” aloud. The disease was not talked about in social circles and it wasn’t discussed in the media.

Since those days, progress has been significant. We are grateful that talking about breast cancer is no longer taboo.

In the years since Suzy Komen’s breast cancer experience, researchers have identified many factors that increase breast cancer risk and a few factors that lower risk. Genetic tests are now available to detect certain mutations. We know that certain lifestyle choices – such as maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol intake, limiting postmenopausal hormone use, and breastfeeding – can have an impact on breast cancer risk. We know now that breast cancer is not contagious, contrary to previous belief.

Many risk factors are still unknown and some are simply out of our control; the two most significant risk factors for breast cancer are being a woman and getting older. Although we have learned a lot, we still do not fully understand what causes breast cancer to develop at a certain time in a certain person.

Komen grants have made major breakthroughs possible in breast cancer over the past 30 years. And Komen is leading the way to learn more about preventing this disease, including investments in research aimed at figuring out what role environmental factors such as pollution, radiation exposure and synthetic chemicals may play in the development of breast cancer.

In 1980, the 5-year relative survival rate for women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer (cancer that has not left the breast) was about 74%. Today, that number is 98%.

Since 1990, early detection and effective treatment have resulted in a 34 percent decline in breast cancer mortality in the U.S.

Today, Komen continues to work to find cures for breast cancer while also helping women gain access right now to the quality breast health care they need.

Today, there are nearly three million breast cancer survivors in the United States – that’s more than any other group of cancer survivors.

Today, more breast cancer survivors are breast cancer thrivers, leading long and fulfilling lives. Komen is with these survivors at every step of their journey.

What Komen St. Louis Means to Me


“Here’s what Komen means to me: HOPE! I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 42. I had no prior family history, so this really came as a surprise. As I left my physician’s office with a folder that had a big pink ribbon on it, to say the least I was discouraged. Inside this folder was a lot of information, and I noticed a lot of it had been produced by the Susan G. Komen organization. 

My process of determining a course of treatment to fight the cancer took what seemed like a lifetime. During this time, I went to Mercy Hospital’s cancer center and talked with a social worker. Again, I was given more information and again I saw the Komen name. Komen’s mission is to eradicate breast cancer, but by providing information regarding the disease, they also give those fighting the fight against breast cancer HOPE! I needed it then, and my involvement now as a Komen St. Louis volunteer is to ensure that HOPE can be given to women in our community each time they hear the terrible words that they have breast cancer.”

– Tina Seidel, Breast Cancer Survivor and Komen St. Louis Volunteer

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