Several members of the Susan G. Komen Tyler Affiliate recently attended the 2013 Susan G. Komen Leadership Conference in Dallas, including Karen Durham, a grants chair and advisory council member who shared her experience with metastatic breast cancer.
Anna Malone, board president; Jayme Fitzpatrick, board secretary; and Jennifer Watkins, executive director also represented Komen Tyler.
Ms. Durham, a long-time Komen Tyler volunteer and breast cancer survivor, was a guest speaker at one of the conference's breakout sessions about metastatic breast cancer. Kelly Seyed, PhD, scientific grants manager with Susan G. Komen; Dr. George W. Sledge, Jr., professor and chief of the Division of Oncology at Stanford University Medical Center moderated the session.
The session emphasized Komen's dedication to understanding, treating and preventing metastatic breast cancer and provided the metastatic breast cancer patient's perspective of the disease.
Ms. Durham was diagnosed with Stage 2 invasive breast cancer in 1989. She underwent surgery, chemotherapy and reconstruction. In 2009 she discovered a small pocket of fluid on her neck. After a negative CT scan and ultrasound, a very active hot spot for cancer was found with a PET scan. A subsequent biopsy showed Ms. Durham had Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. She enrolled in a clinical trial and has been on the same trial for more than four years.
Her life is scheduled around many oncology appointments. She hesitates to make long-term goals or plan for the distant future. However, Ms. Durham remains an active volunteer at the national level serving on the Susan G. Komen Advocates in Science Steering Committee, an advocate grant reviewer for Susan G. Komen since 2007 and for the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program since 2008.
Locally, Ms. Durham has served as a volunteer for 13 years as the board treasurer, grants chair, education chair as well as serving on the Race for the Cure and Ride for the Cure committees.
STILL WORKING FOR A CURE
Local officials said the promise of Susan G. Komen for the Cure is to save lives and end breast cancer by empowering people, ensuring quality care for all and energizing science to find cures. Komen affiliates represent one of the nation's largest private funding sources for breast health and breast cancer screening, education and treatment support programs.
The Komen Tyler affiliate's local fundraising efforts have funded projects such as the Breast Health and Screening Initiative, which pays for breast diagnostic services for women who can't afford them through the Northeast Texas Public Health District.
To ensure funds are making the greatest impact, affiliate officials said, Komen Tyler works with local medical experts and community leaders to conduct a comprehensive community needs assessments every two years. The assessment identifies specific, unmet breast health needs within Smith County and then directs the funding of the organization.
Up to 75 percent of a Komen Affiliate's net income stays in the local community to fund breast cancer screening and education programs. The remaining net income supports the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Award and Research Grants Program, which funds breast cancer research, meritorious awards and educational and scientific programs around the world.
The Susan G. Komen Ride for the Cure will be on Oct. 12 at Tarrant Ranch in Bullard. For more information, contact Jennifer Watkins, executive director, at 903-561-6992 or visit www.komentyler.org.