Turning a tragedy into an opportunity to make a difference

Alison at the 2010 Komen Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Race for the Cure

Back in 1985, I lost my mom to breast cancer. I was only 17 yrs old and she was 44. Then at the age of 32, I was also diagnosed with breast cancer. I am now a proud survivor of 11 years. For the past 15 years, I have participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure not realizing that I would one day walk as a Survivor. Last year, I decided to do more and joined the committee for the Komen Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Race for the Cure. In addition to helping out with the race, I also helped answer phone calls in the office, assisted with a phone bank on CBS4 and organized survivor events.  I was astonished as to how many people reached out to Komen looking for support including free mammograms, education and counseling.  It was extremely fulfilling to help so many and realize how important Komen is in our community.  In addition to helping others, I also benefited from this experience by establishing everlasting relationships with other amazing survivors. Although I can’t bring my mom back, I can keep her memory alive by continuing to assist others through the Komen network.

Thank you, Komen, for allowing me to turn a tragedy into an opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives.  I am confident that with Komen’s efforts along with everyone’s continued support, we WILL find a cure to breast cancer.

– Alison Pages

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The Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure Changed My Life

Kim at the 2012 Bahamas Race for the Cure

Surviving breast cancer has enlightened me in so many areas of my life. I’ve become more positively focused on the future and all the opportunities and “Promises” that lie ahead. I knew immediately that my life had to be more purpose driven. My innermost instincts were telling me that I needed to share my journey with everyone I knew. I remember thinking: I have to share my story to help others. For the last fifteen years Susan G. Komen for the Cure has afforded me the opportunity to fulfill my passion which is breast health education, advocacy, and the fight to eradicate breast cancer forever.

It was July 3, 1995. I was carrying a suitcase to the elevator at the hotel, filled with excitement anticipating all the wonderful fun I’d have at my family reunion. I felt this excruciating pain under my arm. To my amazement I felt a hard lump. I thought it was from shaving or deodorant. Well, it hurt more each day of my vacation and I decided to see my doctor as soon as I returned home.

I was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer with lymph node involvement. Having no family history and considered too young for a mammogram, I was forced to plead with doctors to get a mammogram. Being diagnosed early was a blessing and I’m living proof that “Early Detection Helps Save Lives”.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure saved my life. I had just resigned from my job and opened my hair salon so, I was uninsured. My chemotherapy and radiation were clinical trials funded by grants from Komen during 1995 through 1997. Komen has accomplished so much globally and in our Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Affiliate. Seventy five percent of the Affiliate’s net income raised here stay in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties. The other twenty five percent of the dollars raised here go to fund national research.

In 2011, the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Affiliate raised over $2 million, with $1.8 million just from the Race for the Cure. We sent $398,733 to fund national research projects, and $1,098,917 went to 33 local hospitals and community organizations that provide breast health education and breast cancer screening and treatment programs for medically underserved as well as extensive educational outreach programs in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Monroe Counties. One local grant alone helped 3,000 women all the way from detection to treatment. No other organization currently does what we do.

I had the privilege of participating in another study funded by grants from Komen for women of Bahamian descent. My oncologist is the Principal Investigator for this particular study and recognized the high prevalence of BRCA1 mutations among breast cancer patients from the Bahamas. Stay tuned for the results. The fight continues…..

I have so much to be thankful for. I have walked this journey with so many women in my role as a breast cancer support group facilitator which Komen grants funded as well. I met the Executive Director of Komen Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, Bobbi Meyers, twelve years ago and forged a friendship sharing a passion for eradicating breast cancer as well as helping women in underserved communities have access to mammograms and breast health awareness. I am a member of Komen Advocacy Alliance, an Ambassador for Komen’s Circle of Promise, a Komen Speaker/Educator, and facilitate Komen’s Women of Color Outreach (Sistah Talk).

It’s hard to convey my sentiments for Susan G. Komen for the Cure without tears. Just know that these are tears of JOY! There have been many bends in the road living as a breast cancer survivor but, I’m thankful for every moment! My commitment to Susan G. Komen for the Cure stands firm and solid.

Together we can all see our goal to eradicate breast cancer through research and direct help to low-income, uninsured, and underserved women become a reality.

Pink Hugs,

Kim Heard

Moving Forward and Getting Back to Our Mission

Dear Komen Supporter,

The events of the past two weeks surrounding Komen’s funding decisions have been challenging and disappointing to all of us.  Much has been said and written in the media about these events.  Sadly, however, very little if anything has been said about the local impact Komen has on the community.  We at the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Affiliate are genuinely and sincerely sorry for the most recent developments.  We are writing to assure you that our focus at our Affiliate has not changed and we will continue to serve the needs of the women in our community.

Since our Affiliate was founded in 1999, we have invested more than $7.6 million in local breast health and breast cancer awareness projects in our service area of Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe Counties.  These community partners advance the Komen mission by helping the uninsured and those with low-income through breast health and breast cancer screening, treatment, education and support programs.  Our 2011-2012 grant recipients are a diverse group of health care organizations, public health agencies and community groups in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties (click here for a list of our current grantees).  Just last year, with money you donated locally, the Komen Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Affiliate awarded $1,098,917 in local programs that provided:*

• 960 diagnostic services
• 89 treatment services
• 3,905 clinical breast exams
• 2,708 screening mammograms
• 129 psychological services
• 2,160 mammogram referrals
• 905 diagnostics referrals
• 23 biopsies
• 28 genetic tests
• 42,276 people reached through educational programs
• A direct impact to 53,183 individuals

As a result of the partnership with our grantees, 116 cases of breast cancer were diagnosed.

We have been able to have this kind of impact in our community because 75 percent of the net proceeds raised through our Affiliate each year stay in this area, helping our neighbors in need.

The remaining 25 percent funds breast cancer research on a national level.  Our Affiliate has contributed nearly $2.5 million to Susan G. Komen for the Cure for national research.  At the same time, more than $3 million has been awarded for research in our area, including the most recent research grant to the University of Miami in the amount of $599,997 for the Evaluation of Genetic Risk in Caribbean Women with Breast and Ovarian Cancer headed by Dr. Judith Hurley.

In addition, we are dedicated to being great stewards of the money that you generously donate. Our Affiliate is proud to have an expense-to-revenue ratio of 19 percent, significantly under the 25 percent limit.

We could not have done it without your very generous support, whether that was financial support or through the gift of your time.  Thank you!

We have made so much progress, but there is still so much work to be done as the need for more low-cost and free services increases each year.  More than 200,000 women and men in our country are diagnosed with cases of invasive breast cancer.  A woman will die of breast cancer every 13 minutes in the United States.  Our work is not done until that number is zero.

Those who are fighting this horrible disease do it with such courage and grace, but they cannot do it alone.  Please help us LOCALLY as we continue to support their fight and together we will end breast cancer forever.

Meanwhile, we ask for your support and help in telling our story.  Please contact us if you have any questions.  We want to personally thank you for your concern and ongoing loyalty.

Our mission is to eradicate breast cancer and saves lives and we promise to never forget the people we serve.

Sincerely,

Bobbi Meyers                                                                      Grace C. Lopez
Executive Director                                                            President

*These figures are from April 1, 2011 until October 31, 2011.  Our fiscal year ends March 31, 2012.