Cancer organizations look to alleviate confusion concerning local October events

Sue Guinn Legg • Sep 22, 2012 at 9:53 PM

October is breast cancer awareness month and this year Tri-Cities area residents will have two opportunities to come together to raise funds for research, prevention and local services to advance the fight against the disease that impacts more than one in every eight women.

The American Cancer Society will stage the region’s first Making Strides to End Breast Cancer walk on Oct. 14, beginning at 3 p.m. at the Millennium Center. The Susan G. Komen Tri-Cities affiliate will host its seventh annual Race for the Cure 5K race and walk on Oct. 21, beginning at 11: 30 a.m. at Memorial Park in Kingsport.

While both events have the same goal, the local Komen affiliate says their similarity and close proximity is causing confusion among its supporters and last week issued a release to the Johnson City Press to clarify their distinctions.

“Our race is always on the third weekend in October. Our people have ben seeing their PSAs (public service announcements) and their brochure, which looks very similar to ours ... and they’re confused,” Cheryl Youland, executive director of Komen Tri-Cities said. “We have had people calling asking us if we’ve moved our race to Johnson City or if we’re having two races. This is to let those people know that their race does one thing and ours does another.”

Tri-Cities Komen board president Curt Rose, who drafted the release issued Wednesday evening said, “The big difference is that we focus on screening, education and early detection.”

According to Rose, since its founding in 2005, Komen Tri-Cities has awarded $2 million through its community based grant program, including grants to local ACS programs. It has funded approximately 9,000 mammograms for local women, including 110 local women who otherwise may not had the means to be screened, and provided additional funds to supplement a state-funded early detection and screening program for low income women in the area.

Rose said in the release, “The main difference between the two is that with Susan G. Komen, your dollars are directly benefiting grant programs for women who live in the 23-county area that Komen serves in Southwest Virginia, Western North Carolina and Northeast Tennessee.”

Seventy-five percent of the money raised by Komen Tri-Cities is used in the local community and the remaining 25 percent goes to national research through Komen research grants that “have touched every major breast cancer breakthrough of the past 29 years,” he said.

“ACS does a lot of good for a lot of cancers through advocacy and scientific research and is certainly a well-respected cancer organization. It serves many people with many different kinds of cancers, but when it comes to breast cancer, Susan G. Komen for the Cure is the leader in breast cancer and we focus on our local communities and the women who live here,” he said.

Contacted for a response on Friday, Cara Ledbetter, director of the regional American Cancer Society office in Johnson City, said, “The American Cancer Society does have programs (that) benefit women in our local communities. In fact, one in every two women newly diagnosed with breast cancer reaches out to us for help and support. Our 24-hour-a-day phone lines are available to help patients navigate through their breast cancer journey as well as refer them to our local office’s programs that can help them along the way.”

Local ACS programs include assistance with patient transportation to and from treatment, a volunteer mentoring program that matches cancer survivors with newly diagnosed patients, Look Good Feel Better which provides wigs, accessories and professional hair and cosmetic services to women who lose their hair in cancer treatment, and a patient service room at its offices at 508 Princeton Road where breast cancer patients receive prosthesis, bras, wigs and other resources and assistance.

“All of these items are provided free of charge due to fundraising events like Making Strides Against Breast Cancer as well as others in our area,” Ledbetter said

Ledbetter said the ACS also remains a global leader in cancer research. In the breast cancer arena, she said ACS “has funded discoveries of major treatments, including Tamoxifen, which lowers the risk of the most common type of breast cancer in women by about 50 percent, becoming the world’s first cancer prevention drug, and Herceptin, which reduces the recurrence of a certain type of breast cancer by about 50 percent.”

“Last year, the society awarded $16.7 million for breast cancer research, alone. Many if not, every, local breast cancer patient has benefitted from these milestone research discoveries provided by the American Cancer Society,” she said.

As for the scheduling of next month’s Making Strides walk, Ledbetter said the walk is a Breast Cancer Awareness month event that has been conducted in October in communities across the country for the past 20 years.

For those who wish to help, registration forms and more information about the Tri-Cities Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure are available online at www.komentricities.org or may be obtained by calling the affiliate at 765-9313. The affiliate is located at 301 Louis St., Suite 301, Kingsport.

More information and team registration for the ACS Making Strides to end Breast Cancer walk, are available online at makingstrides.acsevents.org/tricities or may be obtained by calling the local ACS office at 926-2921.

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