I promise

"I promise, Suzy... Even if it takes the rest of my life." - Nancy G. Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure

What is Triple Negative Breast Cancer?


Just in recent years, Triple Negative Breast Cancer has sparked interest in the news where instead of calling the tumor as ER-negative, PR-negative, and HER2-negative; researchers began using the shorthand term, "Triple Negative," dubbed the "new type" type of cancer. Being Triple Negative, you don't have a targeted therapy and that your only treatment option is chemotherapy.

Triple Negative is seen in about 15% of all breast cancers. Triple Negative is a very aggressive cancer that tends to strike younger women, pre-menopause, especially among African-American women and women who have BRCA1 mutations. The tumor tends to be fast growing and is less likely to show up on an annual mammogram. TN is more likely to metastasis early on; has a high rate of recurrence in the first 2-3 years from diagnosis and has a poorer prognosis than other types of breast cancer due to lack of specific, targeted treatment for TNBC.

Carpe diem

Seize Each new Day with Renewed Strength,
Believe in Yourself, Go forward with
Courage and faith
to face whatever Tomorrow may bring.

Chicks For Charity motto:

Enjoy life. Laugh a lot.
Work hard. Play hard.
Be thankful for our blessings.
Share the wisdom. Give back

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June 29, 2015, Ellen Goodman... Goodbye.

My heart goes out to Komen Founder, Nancy Brinker and her son, Eric. So very sorry for your loss.  May Ellen Goodman rest in peace and be reunited with her daughter, Susan G. Komen.

 “When you see something that needs doing, do it.
When you see a wrong, right it.”

Friday, June 26, 2015

Komen Series #4: Strolling Through Washington DC at Race for the Cure 2015

While I was attending the Komen Blogger Summit in DC,  I was also invited as a VIP guest of Komen, where we had a continental breakfast while WWE's, Hulk Hogan, Komen's Founder, Nancy Brinker and Komen's CEO and President, Dr. Judith Salerno spoke to us survivors and supporters of Komen's Mission.  British Singer and Songwriter, Matt Goss took stage and really got the crowd pumped up with his hit song, "Strong" that has now become the "Survivor Anthem" for Komen for the Cure.  Matt Goss amazed me when he belted out his powerful lyrics of "Strong" that was written and dedicate to his Mum while she was going through chemotherapy for her breast cancer, who unfortunately had since passed.  Matt Goss has partnered with Susan G. Komen to help raise funds for their organization with donations for downloading his song, "Strong." Here is a link to a video I recorded from my camera of Matt Goss' amazing performance at DC's Race for the Cure : https://youtu.be/_d1yPJSeMSk

As Nancy Brinker takes stage, she held a moment of silence to remember those who were no longer with us and honors the live and stories of the survivors that were present.  Nancy expressed her gratitude of support with this heartfelt closing:

"I thank you from the bottom of my heart, Susan Komen thanks you and everyone who helps do this every single day all over the world to make a better world, a world without breast cancer."
Kicking off the start of the race, Hulk Hogan takes stage, wearing his pink t-shirt to show his support for breast cancer awareness. Hulk referred to us survivors in the crowd as the "real heroes" that step up each and every day fighting this horrible disease and for leading the charge to end breast cancer.

With over 15,000 Race for the Cure walkers, it was a slow start for me just getting pass the starting line, where Matt Goss and Nancy Brinker stood as they greeted, shook hands and posed for photographs. With my camera on hand, I couldn't pass up one last photo opportunity and a hug from Komen's great supporter, Matt Goss.  It was a gorgeous day walking for my "cause" and taking it all in, as I walked past many well-known memorials and monuments along the beautiful 3 mile stretch in Washington DC.

Tears came to my eyes as I approached the finish line and receiving my "survivor medallion" for I wanted to share this amazing experience with my mother, whom I lost just 3 months prior. I always loved sharing my stories and photos with my mom throughout my journey. Below, enjoy the photos I've taken during Race for the Cure.

Komen Bloggers heading to VIP tent
Komen Bloggers and Community Outreach Grantees
I walked for all of my TNBC sisters!
Hulk Hogan, WWE,
Grand Marshal for Komen
DC 2015 Race
Partnership with WWE to race to end breast cancer
Dr. Judith Salerno, Hulk Hogan and Nancy Brinker
Standing where Hulk Hogan once stood...
Nancy and Dr. Salerno's commitment to Komen
Matt Goss gets walkers pumped with his song, Strong
Ready to walk 3 miles!
Matt Goss and Nancy Brinker greeting walkers
Matt Goss and Melissa Paskvan
Matt Goss and Nancy Brinker at the starting line
Walking amongst 15,000 people!
Melissa at Jefferson Memorial
Duckies at Jefferson Memorial
Detoured to see MLK Memorial
Passing the Lincoln Memorial
Walked through FDR Memorial on the way
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every
experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.
You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror.
 I can take the next thing that comes along.’
You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

Eleanor Roosevelt
Jefferson Memorial up-close 
Zooming camera in for view of The White House
View of Lincoln Memorial from Washington Monument
View of The Capitol from Washington Monument
This is for you Mom, I'm a survivor!
Komen has been and continues to make progress

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Komen Series #1: Experience The Mission of Expanding Care and Advancing the Science 2015

Once again, I was thrilled and honored to be invited back by Komen National to participate along with 6 other breast cancer bloggers at Komen's Blogger Summit 2015, Experience The Mission: Expanding Care and Advancing the Science on May 8, 2015.   I recognized and was happy to see some former bloggers from last year, Rene Syler, Nicole McLean, Renee Ross and Debbie Woodbury. New to the Summit this year were bloggers, Tami Boehmer and Jill Cohen, both living with metastatic breast cancer. The Summit consisted of listening to and interacting with Komen representatives, a Komen Scholar, a Research Grantee and Komen Advocates speaking on Komen's Mission.  As I attended the 2nd annual Komen Blogger Summit in Washington DC, I learned that Komen is focusing in on how they're making a difference and how are they helping in 3 key areas: 
  • Metastatic Breast Cancer
  • Training young investigators for the next generation of breast cancer researchers
  • Breast health disparities in uninsured women
With only 15% of Komen's $50M devoted to research in 2013 went towards Metastatic Breast Cancer, some women living with metastatic disease says that's not enough. Komen is listening to these women as metastatic breast cancer dominated the conversation among the bloggers at the Summit.
1 in 5 patients diagnosed with breast cancer are living with metastatic disease.  Treatment can relieve symptoms, extend and improve quality of life for many years, but most patients with metastatic breast cancer cannot be cured.  Komen is looking into expanding care for women living with metastatic breast cancer...  What do they need and what do they need now to live life to the fullest for however long their life may be?

Dr. Antonio Wolf stressed that accuracy is huge in treatment.  His research involves giving the least amount of chemo to avoid issues with over-toxicity, false positives and genomics.  Difficulties arises when you biopsy from different metastatic sites and resulting in different genomics make-up.  More research needs to be done to understand the biology of metastatic breast cancer. Wolf stated they need the tools to further research in metastatic breast cancer, they just didn't have the basic science back then.  Another challenge breast cancer researchers face is that only 3% of patients participate in clinical research.

Dr. Wolf, Dr. Raffey and Dr. Stover
Komen's funding for the best research and brightest researchers are determined by a team of Scientific Advisory Board, Komen Scholars and Advocates in Science as they look at the merit of a research project. Will it be successful and lead to a clinical trial?  The process starts with a strategic direction of Komen's scientific focus; then it is reviewed by it peers followed by Science Advocates ensuring that Komen's funding research that has the greatest patient impact. Komen advocates makes sure patient's voice is heard in Science.

Young investigator, Dr. Daniel Stover who's focus in on drug/chemotherapy resistance in Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC), presented his research on TNBC and why do patients respond differently to chemo?... Triple Negative Breast Cancer is not a "single disease."  Dr. Stover will be researching the cancer's DNA Barcode to determine what chemo will work on TNBC patients.  I took advantage of the opportunity to pull Dr. Stover aside after the conference to speak to him about the future of a targeted therapy for TNBC patients.  Dr. Stover agreed that with having several subtypes of triple negative breast cancer that there won't just be one singular targeted therapy, but several target therapies is needed to be discovered.  Stover said that researchers are getting closer to finding  a targeted therapy for TNBC, which gives me great hope that this day will come.
Komen's research programs continue to focus on young investigators for the future with funding of more than $134M in over 685 grants to help with their training and career development in their research. 

Disparities in health care continues to be a huge concern today, and Komen is committed to help eliminate inequities through their community outreach programs to increase access to quality breast health care and screening for African-American and Hispanic uninsured women. Komen is currently funding multi-year grants in Washington DC and Chicago Metro to combat breast health disparities.
5% of black women die everyday of advanced breast cancer. I remember Dr. Judith Salerno saying more than once that this is just unacceptable! The elimination of inequities in prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment and survivorship for all women is being addressed by Komen and their partner organizations. 

Komen's impact in the community is determined by targeting the area of highest needs and supporting community partners to address those needs. In 2013, Komen had devoted $76M in grants to more than 1300 community partner agencies to fund education, diagnostics services, treatment and survivorship programs to those in greatest need.

Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer, Norm Bowling spoke of the importance of partnerships with big corporations... It is a great way of extending their mission message to their followers, reaching larger audiences.  In addition, these big corporation partners help fund-raise for Komen.  Bowling leads the Komen 3-Day race series raising more than $850 million since 2004. 

At last years conference, Komen marketing team and bloggers discussed  Komen's website and social media.  Suggestions were made to Komen in efforts of reaching a wider audience and what information a person may be looking for when they go to the Komen Website.  Komen is committed to building relationships with people they serve. Since then, Komen had expanded their social media.  In addition to Facebook and Twitter, they have added Pinterest and Instagram to their Website. Komen has revamped their website to make it easier to navigate and have topics geared towards what part of their journey they are in now and issues they are facing as they're going through their journey.  Komen has been adding personal stories of breast cancer survivors to inspire others to have hope and see the faces of others surviving and/or living with breast cancer.  Komen has received a lot of positive feedback and more traffic to their website since they updated and improved it. People need to hear what Komen's focuses are and changes they're making was suggested by one blogger. Also suggested, some bloggers agreed that Komen should get rid of the word, "awareness" in their campaign, proclaiming that we are all aware... and use terms, education and information instead.  Check out the new look of Komen's website that is an excellent resource that helps navigate you through every step of your journey, and addresses survivorship concerns too.
Click to link: http://ww5.komen.org

  • Komen continues to be one of the top funders in Breast Cancer Research outside of Government Funding. - $50 Million, 2013
  • Komen's commitment to research has resulted in $847 million to date as of 3/31/14, funding more than 2400 research projects and over 450 clinical trials in total. These investments covers  research in treatments, biology, early detection and prognosis, causes of breast cancer, model systems, prevention/risk prediction and survivorship.  
  • Komen has reached across the globe with investing more than $30M internationally in more than 50 countries.

Komen's research has been primarily focusing on prevention, early detection and metastasis of breast cancer.
  • Komen's investment in breast cancer prevention research exceeds $48M in over 85 grants and 15 clinical trials.
Prevention research is looking at the immune system and lifestyle risk factors, preventative drugs and vaccines, identifying biomarkers to determine who is at high risk of developing breast cancer and dietary approaches. 

  • In early detection research, Komen has spent more than $33M in over 115 grants to improve breast cancer screenings and technology and development of strategies to increase the number of women to get mammograms. 
Their research in the development of ultrasound tomography that uses sound waves to create 3D breast images looks to be more promising than mammograms in detecting breast cancer in women with dense breasts.  

  • Komen has invested more than $98M since 2006 in over 200 grants focusing on metastatic breast cancer research.  
Research is looking to identify genes that causes breast cancer cells to metastasis, develop new treatments to prevent and treat metastasis, and discovering new methods to predict and detect metastasis.

Monday, June 15, 2015

National Cancer Survivors Day 2015

Many thanks to The Victory Center for hosting our annual picnic at Wildwood Park celebrating us survivors on National Cancer Survivors Day, June 7, 2015. Spent the day in good company with my survivor friends for great food, egg toss, and water balloon toss...

Melissa, Laura and Heather

First one out on egg toss :(

Don't tempt me Melissa J!

Got you, Melissa J!

All of us breast cancer survivors of The Victory Center

5+ years survivors!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Susan G. Komen: ALIVE with Joan Lunden

On June 3, 2015, As journalist and tv personality, Joan Lunden celebrates 1 year from being diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer, Joan announces her partnership with Susan G. Komen and Breast Cancer Research Foundation bringing ALIVE with Joan Lunden, a streaming subscription TV Network for those going through their breast cancer journey.  Get informed, get educated and be empowered by Joan's daily video content on breast cancer, overall heath and wellness. Hear from Joan herself, breast cancer researchers, survivors and advocates that are supporters or funded by Komen.

Subscribe today:

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Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation

Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation
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The SCAR Project

The SCAR Project
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Breast Cancer Awareness Body Painting Project

Breast Cancer Awareness Body Painting Project
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