What Pink Makes Possible with Susan G. Komen Kentucky

October is recognized around the globe as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time to honor survivors and remember those we’ve lost to this disease. Susan G. Komen Kentucky is a local nonprofit that is fighting to end breast cancer by funding breast cancer research and supporting programs and services for people in need across Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

“The Susan G. Komen pink ribbon stands for much more than just wearing pink and raising awareness,” said Susan G. Komen Kentucky Executive Director Lynda Weeks. “Everything we do is focused on achieving Komen’s Bold Goal: to reduce the current number of breast cancer deaths in the United States by 50 percent by the year 2026.”

An estimated 1 in 8 women and 1 in 1,000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. In 2018, approximately 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women, and 2,550 cases will be diagnosed in men in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society.

Susan G. Komen Kentucky is working to reduce these numbers by focusing its efforts in several key areas of need, including funding metastatic breast cancer research, reducing disparities and providing breast health education. For every dollar donated to Susan G. Komen Kentucky, approximately 75 percent is invested into programs and services, and the additional 25 percent funds global breast cancer research. Komen selects a group of local programs to support each fiscal year, based on a need-assessment conducted in the community and current funding priorities. Research funding is allocated to Komen’s network of medical researchers and skilled professionals.

Metastatic Breast Cancer Research

More than 154,000 people are currently living with metastatic breast cancer in the U.S. Since its inception in 1982, Susan G. Komen has invested more than $180 million in over 450 research grants and 40 clinical trials focused on metastatic breast cancer.

This research is working to identify the genes and processes that cause breast cancer cells to metastasize. Researchers are developing and testing new therapies that both prevent and treat metastatic breast cancer, and they are discovering new methods for predicting and detecting metastasis using urine, blood tests and body scans.

Reducing Disparities

Unfortunately, many people diagnosed with breast cancer often have to choose between paying bills and paying for treatment. Komen has invested more than $110 million in over 270 research grants and 160 clinical trials focused on breast cancer inequities. The organization has also funded 26 grants that have supported more than 80 students pursuing careers focused on breast cancer disparities research.

Breast Health Education

While overall awareness of the disease has grown significantly in recent years, there is still more work to be done when it comes to breast health education. Many people still believe that “breast cancer only affects older women,” or “if it doesn’t run in my family, I’m safe.” However, breast cancer has no barriers. It affects women and men of all ages, and all ethnicities.

Regular breast cancer screening is vital, as early-detection ensures better patient outcomes. Beginning at age 20, women should have a clinical breast exam at least every three years. At age 40, women should have a clinical breast exam and a mammogram every year. Women at a higher risk for breast cancer, including those with a family history, may need to begin screening sooner. Talk with your doctor to determine a screening schedule that is right for you.

Komen encourages women to “know their normal” and be aware of any changes in how their breasts look and feel. The signs of breast cancer are not the same for all women. Changes that should be reported to your health care provider include:

  • Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarms area
  • Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast
  • Itchy, scaly, sore or rash on the nipple
  • Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
  • Change in the size or shape of your breast
  • Dimpling or puckering of the skin
  • Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
  • New pain in one spot that does not go away

Komen Kentucky Supported Programs

Each year, Susan G. Komen Kentucky selects a variety of community programs to support. The organization has selected five local beneficiaries for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. These programs serve people across Kentucky and Southern Indiana. Current programs include:

Saint Joseph Hospital Yes, Mamm! Program – This program provides screenings and diagnostic services to the medically underserved of central and eastern Kentucky. The Yes, Mamm! program also provides transportation assistance to patients for whom transportation is a barrier, and genetic testing to family members who live in areas where comprehensive breast services are not available.

Norton Healthcare Prevention & Wellness Breast Cancer Screening Program – This initiative provides mammograms, clinical breast exams and wellness exams in the Mobile Prevention Center. This outreach program reaches primarily Hispanic/Latino and African-American community members.

University Medical Center, Inc. James Graham Brown Cancer Center & Mobile Cancer Screening Van – The cancer center and mobile screening van provide quality cancer screenings, diagnostic services and educational materials to uninsured or under insured individuals, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, education and socio-economic background in Jefferson County and surrounding counties in Kentucky.

Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital Women’s Center Breast Cancer Program – This program works to fill the region’s gap in breast cancer screening and education services. The staff has served thousands of local individuals with breast cancer screenings and diagnostics, follow-ups, treatment, navigation and educational services.

Flaget Memorial Hospital Breast HOPE Program – This program educates women on the importance of taking an active role in their breast health, and provides transportation assistance, supplies to aid in recovery after surgery and treatment, as well as financial assistance for breast cancer screening and diagnostic services. The initiative servesmedically uninsured women in Nelson, Larue and Hardin counties.

If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, the Komen network is here to help. To find assistance in Kentuckiana, call (502) 495-7824. To learn more about how Susan G. Komen Kentucky is making an impact, visit KomenKentucky.org.

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