Top Fundraising Team—Besties for Breasties

As a nonprofit organization, Komen San Antonio relies upon the support of our generous fundraising teams and individuals. With their help we have been able to achieve and meet the most critical needs in our communities and invest in research to prevent and cure breast cancer. This month we would like to honor and recognize one of our most impactful teams, Besties for Breasties.

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Eight years ago, Missy Rael, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Following her diagnosis, she became more involved with Komen and soon organized her own Race for the Cure fundraising team. Having two daughters of her own and having experienced breast cancer first hand, Missy felt the need to do what she could to give back and help other women who are battling this disease.

Since 2008, Besties for Breasties has grown into a team of over one hundred members, many of whom are survivors or are currently battling breast cancer themselves. Though her team was originally named “Power Pink Girls”, Missy changed the team’s name to “Besties for Breasties” after many of her dearest friends and team members were diagnosed with the same cancer or another form of cancer. One of her closest friends, and Co-captain, Pat Shreder, was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Missy and Pat work diligently in arranging fundraising events to motivate their team and get their members, and the community involved.

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The team has organized many silent auctions, pink parties, and wine tasting events which have proven to be very successful being a Top Fundraising Team for the past 4 years. Besties for Breasties are working with companies such as Kendra Scott, Painting with a Twist, and TopGolf who have been exceptional contributors and supporters of the Komen cause.

When planning fundraising events, Missy and Pat suggest that the best way to encourage team members is by staying heavily involved and in communication with one another, in order to motivate members to stay active with the team’s end goal. Also, to never be afraid to ask for help or to reach out to the community and local businesses because most individuals are more than happy to offer their support.besties-for-breastiesxx

Since Missy’s diagnosis, it has been her mission to act as an advocate and encourage other women who are currently battling this illness.

Missy feels that is important for women with breast cancer to be in touch with one another and to provide comfort and reassurance during these difficult times. When speaking to women about the Komen cause and breast cancer disease, Missy likes to remind fighters and survivors that it may be tough, but “Tough Women Stand Together”.

Laurie Valdez

My name is Laurie Valdez and I am a breast cancer survivor. In late September of 2015 I had a hysterectomy that I recovered well from. While in preparation of going back to work, I heard on the radio a reminder from the Susan G. Komen foundation saying that October was Breast Cancer Awareness month. This prompted me to schedule my annual mammogram for mid-October.

After having seen the doctor I received a letter later that week saying that they had found possible abnormalities, and so I needed to schedule another mammogram for further review. laurieLuckily, they were able to get me in that same week. That Friday I remember going in thinking it was just a precaution, but I was wrong. On October 22nd my doctor showed me the second mammogram and the area of concern, she then compared it to my last mammogram where the cancer could not be seen. They were immediately concerned with the size of the mass and scheduled a sonogram and needle biopsy for me that same day.

I went to the Baptist Health Breast Center and they were extremely caring and sensitive throughout the entire process. Dr. Bailey shared his concerns and explained to me the procedure and the severity of my condition. He said that he would be surprised if this was not cancer but also shared that it did not appear to be a “big and ugly” cancer. Even after hearing all this I was still holding on to the hope that it was not cancer.

On October 28th, 2015 I was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma in citu (DCIS), an aggressive but non-invasive cancer. I was devastated. Never did I think I would be diagnosed with breast cancer. I was doing what every woman should do, regularly scheduling my Well-Woman visit. Once I was diagnosed I immediately went to the Komen website where they provided me with essential information regarding my diagnosis. Such as what questions to ask, what options were available to me, and further guidance on where to go for additional resources and information.

Then, through no fault of my own, I lost my health insurance. Though I was scheduled for a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction on December 22nd, I was forced to cancel. I felt defeated, angry, and confused. I was advised to consult an attorney, and my sister suggested that we contact Komen SA that same day. img_2562Coincidentally, both the attorney and the Komen office were located in the same building. When I walked into the Komen office I was a complete mess, crying so hard that I could barely explain my situation. I was immediately greeted by Bre and the other ladies in the office who were so compassionate and supportive that they truly gave me hope again. Elyse immediately came up with a plan to make sure that I would receive the surgery I was in desperate need of. Through their guidance I was able to get in contact and receive assistance from WINGS, a non-profit breast cancer support group providing care and surgery for the underinsured and underprivileged in south-central Texas.

I remember at one point I actually considered not doing anything, and just letting the cancer grow. But that day I left the office with hope, hope that I could still have surgery despite the fact that I did not have medical insurance. Although my original surgery was cancelled, I am happy to say that on January 18th of 2016 I received my surgery, and I am now cancer free with the help of Komen SA and WINGS.ed

I am so appreciative and cannot speak highly enough of the guidance and support that they have provided for me with both financially and emotionally. The Komen ladies have been resourceful, kind, and compassionate and have always treated me like family. Anything I can do to support the foundation, I will.

Lillie Jackson

lillie-jackson-2-edMy name is Lillie Jackson and I am a two time breast cancer survivor. I was first diagnosed in June 2006 with Stage 3 Breast Cancer, which had already began to spread to my lymph nodes. I had to have 25% of my right breast removed, along with seven lymph nodes removed from my right arm. Shortly after, I began treatment and chemotherapy.

For four years I was in remission, and then in February of 2010 the cancer had come back. However, this time it was categorized as Stage Four and had metastasized to my lungs. Metastatic breast cancer, also known as stage four or advanced breast cancer, is breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast and to other organs in the body. After twenty seven years, I was forced to retire so that I could take the necessary steps to better care for my health.

lillie-jackson1Through Komen San Antonio’s grant funding and contribution I have received assistance from SLEW Wellness Center, a local breast cancer non-profit agency for uninsured, underinsured and low-income women. SLEW provides no-cost aftercare services for women recovering and undergoing surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation treatment. I regularly receive massage therapy for my pain, and have been fitted for prosthetic bras. SLEW also provides lymphatic sleeves for women, and when I began losing my hair, they provided me with the proper fittings for a wig.

I am doing well now and feeling very fortunate. I went from having chemo once a week to now only going once a month. I found that I have to encourage myself just as much as I encourage others, and I believe that we can do all things if we trust and believe in God. I have had such an amazing support system from both my family and Komen SA, who have been such a blessing and great help throughout this entire battle.

 

 

Wendy Merrill—6 Years Strong

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My name is Wendy Merrill and in February of 2010 I was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. Initially, I had went in for my annual mammogram and was not expecting anything out of the norm during this particular checkup. However, when I later received a call back from the doctor’s office saying that they wanted to get a second opinion I knew something was not right. I remember telling my honey that something was wrong because it’s not normal for them to run two to three tests in a row. When I went back to the doctor’s office later that week they wanted to do a biopsy, and when the results came back it confirmed that I did in fact have breast cancer. However, I remember not being in shock after receiving the news because I knew a lot of people get sick. Instead, I asked what do we do next? Where do we go from here? While there is no history of breast cancer in my family, my mother did `have cancer, so I think that helped give me a motive to be strong.

In April of 2016 is when I had a mastectomy as well as fifteen lymph nodes removed from my right arm, and by September I was starting my chemotherapy. I remember when my hair started falling out my granddaughter became frightened because she didn’t understand what was happening. That’s when I started to wear a scarf around my head and she would always say, “Let me fix your scarf memaw,” she called me “memaw” because she couldn’t say grandma just yet.

I love my grandkids and I’m so grateful for my family who have always been such a wonderful support system throughout this battle. After six years I felt that it was finally time to share my story and I am proud to say that I am a survivor of breast cancer, and even though I feel restless from time to time I am happy and I am thankful. The way I see it is that life gives you hurdles, and I decided to jump this one and defeat it.

 

Celebrating 30 Years

lydiaThirty years ago, Lydia Tolle did a self-breast exam when she noticed something that did not feel right. She had found a lump and knew in that very moment that something was wrong.

After going to the doctor to express her concerns, she was stunned at the news that she had received– Breast Cancer.

Lydia was in complete shock and couldn’t believe that this was happening to her. There wasn’t anyone in her immediate family who had cancer. Lydia remembers feeling as though the world was closing in on her, but thought, “Lord, the worst thing that could happen is that I could die from this, or that they’ll have to remove my breast. So I left it in His hands, I did my part and He did His.

Lydia turned her state of shock into a state of positivity. She had a mastectomy and went through six months of chemotherapy.

lydia1Through her breast cancer journey, one of the biggest lessons learned was that there is always hope. Lydia says, “It is important that you stay positive and surround yourself with love.” and to “Remember to take it one day at a time.” She also learned the importance of exercise and staying healthy. “Be your own advocate. If something doesn’t feel right, talk to your doctor because early detection is key.”

Lydia is very proud to say she is now a 30 year breast cancer survivor! She is also a breast cancer advocate, a Komen SA volunteer, and a 2016 Top Team fundraiser. Lydia encourages women to get to know their body and to get screened regularly, regardless of one’s life circumstances.

She’s a champion, an advocate, and an inspiration to us all.

Ignite the Night

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On October 1st, Komen San Antonio hosted Ignite the Night at the Tower of the Americas to open Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to increase the awareness of the disease that continues to affect thousands of women worldwide. The event was held to honor fighters, survivors, and those who have gone before us. Over two hundred guests joined us as we lit the Tower pink to recognize all who have been affected by breast cancer.

A big thank you to our Presenting Sponsor, the Tower of the Americas; Champion Sponsors: Argo Group, Cavender Auto Group, and Zachry; Ambassador Sponsors: Kassahn & Ortiz, P.C. and The NRP Group; Friend Sponsors: The Honorable Justin Rodriguez, Treco Enterprises, Inc., and Wells Fargo. 

towerThe event also recognized our beloved sponsors, grantees, and volunteers who have continuously helped to make our mission possible. Local artist, Albert Gonzalez gifted and contributed to our silent auction by creating beautiful, original works of art that were inspired by breast cancer fighters and survivors. We were also delighted to have the very talented and passionate, Grupo Folklorico de Bendiciones who attend and performed throughout the evening.

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Lastly, the reception celebrated Komen’s 20th anniversary and aimed to encourage the public to get involved, and remind those that we are MORE THAN PINK!

To learn more about our upcoming events this October, visit our website at komensanantonio.org/san-antonio-events/.

Learn about our newest programs!

by Kelsey Johnson

This year, Komen San Antonio is providing over $740,000 to 11 local health organizations that provide breast cancer services to women who lack health care coverage or the financial means to obtain breast health screenings or cancer support services.

Each funded organization is selected through an independent Grant Review Panel and a competitive review process. Susan G. Komen San Antonio is proud to announce our two newest 2015-2016 Community Grant Partners! Take a scroll and see how Komen funds are making an impact in our community.


Friends of CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Foundation

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As one of our newest grantees, CHRISTUS Health is providing lifesaving services to our community! With the use of Komen funds, CHRISTUS is able to provide 242 screening mammograms this year. Be sure to check out their fabulously pink, mobile mammography unit!

Mobile Mammo Unit

Year-round, they travel throughout San Antonio helping women get their annual mammograms. They also make it a priority to schedule the mobile unit in areas in Bexar County that were identified as being at higher risk for late-stage breast cancer and death based on the findings of Komen San Antonio’s 2015 Community Profile Report.

To find more information, or to see where the mobile unit will be headed next, please visit their website.


UT Health Science Center at San Antonio

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Science has proved that in some cases, breast cancer is linked to genetics. At The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, they are able to provide genetic counseling and testing to patients who are considered high risk for developing breast cancer through the support of Komen funds. (Eligibility requirements apply).

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The clinic’s genetic counselors help a patient determine what is the right option for them or their family by reviewing their personal health history. It’s always good to have options!

To find more information on this Komen Grantee, visit the website in the link above.

We’re grateful for all of our Grantees for joining us in our mission to save lives!