Guest Blog: Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) Awareness Day

Today, October 13th, is Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) Awareness Day. Please welcome our guest blogger, Jen Anderson, as she shares her story and thoughts on our blog today. 

I’m lonely a lot.

I have Stage IV breast cancer.  Most people have no idea what that means, so I have to clarify and explain every single time I share this information with someone new.  It’s exhausting, and I (over)share with my friends and family by way of my blog so that I spend as little time as possible dealing with cancer outside of the oncology office as I can.  I have metastatic cancer tumors in multiple places in my body which means I am terminal.  That’s the sentence I’ve developed when I need someone to understand, and I have found the terrible bluntness to be necessary to overcome all of the preconceived notions that exist about breast cancer.

Do you know when I often feel the most lonely?  It’s at the breast cancer events. The rallies, the walks, the survivor celebrations, the speeches, the balloons.  At the first event I went to as a Stage IV person, I had two choices for how to sign in at the event:

  • In memory of… : Um, no thanks.  I’m not dead.
  • Cancer free for ____ years! : Um, I’m not cancer-free.  Furthermore, no oncologist I know would ever tell any patient they are cancer-free.  So why is the breast cancer organization giving me (and the rest of the attendants) this bizarre false hope?

I can’t describe the crushing sadness that came over me as I stood at that table.
“I don’t belong.”
“No one cares about metastatic patients.”
“I am invisible in a space where I thought I would be the face of the disease.”

When we think of breast cancer survivors, we think of mostly older women wearing pink with perfectly restored breasts cheerleading, beaming, smiling about the number of years since their last treatment.

That picture is so far off from reality it brings tears to my eyes.  That is not what breast cancer looks like.

On one level Pinktober, pink ribbons, and the success of the breast cancer awareness campaigns that have been so prevalent in the past decades are endearing because we know there are dollars and attention given to breast cancer. There is much to be said about the inattention and lack of funding for other cancers, but that is another topic for another blog.  We’re talking about the breast cancer community today and how it egregiously underserves its most needy population.

You should know there is a throng of strong and vulnerable cancer thrivers who are living with cancer.  Their plight–our plight–is consciously or unconsciously hidden, smothered, or ignored by our peers.  It’s so, so, so lonely.  I was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer at age 32, and Stage IV breast cancer at age 33.  At the time of diagnosis I had minimal family history and was in excellent health otherwise.  I am — in my opinion — the poster child for whom breast cancer organizations should be looking to serve.  Some organizations succeed in making me feel loved, empowered, and strong.  Others, unfortunately, make me feel angry, manipulated, used, and hurt.

Hashtags and social awareness campaigns such as #Don’tIgnoreStageIV, #MetsMonday, and #BCKills have evolved as an attempt to address the disconnect, and have varying levels of impact depending on the advocacy within diverse communities across the nation.  As part of my personal philosophy, I truly believe that the intentions of all people working for a charitable organization is to do the right thing.  I’m pretty good about giving the benefit of the doubt to anyone and everyone and overlooking oversights to focus on the positive contributions. However, when Peggy Isenogle of Komen Cincinnati approached me about creating a symposium to give Stage IV a stronger voice within the breast cancer community, I think I actually clapped and gave her a standing ovation while jumping up and down.  It’s that exciting to me.

It feels like a game-changer for me that someone who has time, energy and influence to extoll the contributions of Stage IV patients is willing to engage in that conversation.  I have so many ideas about how to serve the sick and the healthy men and women living with metastatic disease.  Stage IV patients are the ones who are the most intimately acquainted with breast cancer and all its facets and nuances.  Our needs are great.  This is an opportunity to match the heart: the desire to impact positive change in dealing with breast cancer with the patient who has experienced the very worst form of the disease.

This conversation could do much to address the loneliness experienced by every Stage IV breast cancer patient I know, myself included.

If you are interested in being a part of the conversation to change the perception and priorities for the breast cancer community with a stronger focus on those with metastatic disease, please contact Peggy Isenogle at: We are planning for anyone interested in continuing this important discussion to join us for an evening of conversation and sharing on Tuesday November 10th at 6:00pm at the affiliate office.

Brad, Jen, Maren & Greta

Stories of Inspiration – Volunteer Spreads Hope

Race season is in full swing! If you didn’t know, our 18th Annual Race for the Cure is Friday night, August 28th. We’d like to highlight some inspirational stories over the next few weeks. We hope they inspire you to register, volunteer or make a difference in someones life.

Our first post is written by Donna Traylor, an avid volunteer and mother of breast cancer survivor and Komen Cincinnati staff member Melissa. Enjoy!

“Why do I volunteer for Susan G. Komen?  I volunteer because I want to support the fundraising efforts of Susan G. Komen events, which provide early detection programs and funding for breast cancer research.

Why do I want to do that you ask? I do it for my daughter, and for all the other men and women that are affected by breast cancer. They all deserve to have hope,

Melissa crossing the finish line as a survivor in 2013

Melissa crossing the finish line as a survivor

HOPE that one day there will be a cure. I became involved with Susan G. Komen Greater Cincinnati four years ago, shortly after my 25 year old daughter was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. I felt like I needed to do something, something that made me feel like I could make a difference. Volunteering is so easy, fun, and most of all, it’s very rewarding. A few hours of my time a year, is the least I can do.

I volunteer at the Greater Cincinnati Race for the Cure and at the Komen 3-Day 60

Jeff and Donna Traylor Proud Volunteers

Jeff and Donna – Proud Volunteers

mile walk in Atlanta. It always brings tears to my eyes when I hear a walker say “thank you”. I used to wonder why are they thanking me for volunteering? But now I understand why they say that, if it weren’t for volunteers like myself, there wouldn’t be a Race for the Cure or a 3-day 60 mile walk, there would be less of a chance for HOPE, for a CURE.

If breast cancer has touched the life of someone you love, you will understand why I’m so passionate about volunteering for this wonderful organization. When it’s your daughter or your loved one, you want do anything you can to make a difference and to help find a cure and that’s why I volunteer.”


If you are interested in volunteering at this year’s Race for the Cure, please contact Jennifer Berigan at or click here to check out the volunteer listings on our website.

Register Today

2015-16 Community Health Programs Announced

The Greater Cincinnati Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure® is pleased to announce our 2015-16 Community Health Programs. This year, with the assistance of generous donations from the community, the Affiliate was able to award over $366,170.00 dollars to breast health programs in the Greater Cincinnati area. These important safety net, navigation, and emergency assistance programs target women in our community. Additionally, $150,000.00 was awarded to Sponsored Research of Joan Garrett, PhD at the University of Cincinnati for a total local investment of over $516,170.00!

Community Safety Net Programs:

Adams County Regional Medical Center – Adams County Regional Medical Center (ACRMC) helps alleviate the costs of diagnostic services and co-pays for breast health services in the Adams, Brown, and Highland County area. Women who qualify under specific financial criteria set by the provider who are also in need of additional care beyond a screening mammography will be able to access these services provided by ACRMC.

Center for Appalachia Research in Cancer Education (CARE) – CARE’s Project Hoffnung (Hope) was developed to meet two goals: to provide education about breast health, and to link women with breast cancer screening services. This program strives to continue established community-based screening and education programs in Adams, Highland, and Switzerland Counties for Amish and Mennonite women. The proposed program uses the foundation of trust we currently have established over 14 years within the communities and combines a sound process and impact evaluation plan with strong community-based partnerships from the Amish and Mennonite settlements. This initiative represents an ideal collaboration between agency-based and community-led organizations in order to maximize resources and disseminate breast health services more widely in this underserved community.

Dearborn County Hospital – The DCH Safety Net Program will provide diagnostic procedures (mammography, ultrasound, and biopsy) and surgical consults for medically appropriate clients with no insurance, high deductible/high co-pay insurance or those who fall in the gap between Medicaid/HIP and the Marketplace, especially those in rural areas including Ohio and Switzerland Counties. Also, to provide a very limited number of screening mammograms for these individuals, especially those not eligible for an Indiana Breast Cancer Awareness Trust screening due to residency /lack of availability. Having this funding available will allow patients to pursue/receive needed care in a timely manner providing for the best possible clinical outcomes. Clients with an abnormal screening mammogram/documented breast abnormality will work with the Nurse Navigator to coordinate timely advanced diagnostics including as appropriate, surgical consults and biopsies. Clients diagnosed with a cancer/breast abnormality will continue to work with the Navigator for coordination of treatment and follow-up. Clients will also be referred to the DCH Certified State Navigator/ Social Worker for help in applying for assistance/insurance. The project will be evaluated by the number of clients served by each modality and the number of breast cancers detected. Low income/at risk clients will be more likely to receive needed diagnostics and/or treatment on a timely basis, without nonmedical delays, allowing for the best possible clinical outcomes.

Mercy Health-Anderson – The purpose of this Safety Net Project is to provide diagnostic breast health services for women with financial need who do not qualify for other assistance programs. The program provides a ―safety net for low and moderate income newly-screened women in order to remove the financial barrier that keeps them from seeking follow-up and/or treatment. A nurse navigator will promote the program among referring organizations and help women receive timely follow-up procedures such as diagnostic mammograms and ultrasounds. The likely impact will be timely scheduling of follow-up procedures and an increased number of early stage diagnosed cancers in a timely fashion. There is no comparable program for women who are underinsured or whose income is up to 300% of the poverty guidelines.

St. Elizabeth Healthcare – St. Elizabeth Healthcare helps alleviate the costs of service for women who do not qualify for insurance plans to cover screening mammography and diagnostic services primarily in the Northern Kentucky area. Women who qualify under specific financial criteria set by the provider who are also in need of additional care beyond a screening mammography will be able to access these services provided by St. Elizabeth Healthcare. In addition to five counties in Northern Kentucky, the program will be able to assist in some specific services in Dearborn, Ohio and Switzerland counties in southeastern Indiana.

YWCA of Greater Cincinnati – The YWCA’s Hispanic and Minority Breast Health Outreach Program (BHOP) markets, implements, and provides mammograms for women in these underserved communities. The Hispanic and Minority BHOP provide education and on-site registration for women in the Greater Cincinnati area. The Hispanic and Minority BHOP coordinate and promote with local mammography providers sites specifically targeted to ethnic minority women. The Hispanic and Minority BHOP also assist minority women with financial questions, as well as guidance on the entire process.   Women in need of financial assistance will be enrolled in funding programs. Further, the YWCA Hispanic and Minority BHOP provide educational outreach in the community.

Patient Assistance Programs and Support Resources

Cancer Family Care – Our Center for Individual & Family Counseling (I&F) provides services to women with breast cancer, the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women. I&F help breast cancer patients and their families cope with the overwhelming psychosocial distress, anxiety, and depression associated with a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Key activities include providing in-person counseling as well as Coping Connections telephone hotline support to breast cancer patients and their loved ones regardless of socioeconomic status (participants pay on a sliding scale); those unable to afford services receive them at no charge). These programs are evaluated regularly using process and impact evaluation measures to ensure delivery methods are working. Studies conducted by leading oncologists and medical organizations have shown that programs like I&F that help cancer patients deal with the psychosocial effects brought on by cancer decrease stress and boost the immune system, which can have beneficial impacts on recovery. On average, 85% of I&F participants note an improvement in their ability to manage and cope with their cancer regardless of the course of the disease (this is meaningful because patients do experience setbacks during participation). When cancer patients improve their ability to cope, they feel less stressed and more energized, and far more likely to follow their course of treatment. The importance of this cannot be overstated.

Cancer Support Community – The goal of Community of Hope is to connect, support and empower women throughout the stages of breast cancer – in order to improve quality of life and enhance the recovery process. Backed by evidence that the best cancer care includes social and emotional support; Cancer Support Community is advancing innovations that are becoming the standard in complete integrated cancer care. The program’s activities include one weekly support group for women with breast cancer (Stages 1, 2, 3), the Breast Cancer Survivors and FORCE networking groups, the Young Survival Coalition, a Breast Cancer Post-treatment group and YCat yoga. These groups provide support and education to women throughout the stages of their breast cancer journey, and bring together women with similar needs and concerns. We anticipate that Community of Hope will serve approximately 145 women in the Greater Cincinnati region. All programming at CSC is continually evaluated to ensure participant satisfaction and best use of resources. Program enrollment, retention and attendance are tracked; and impact evaluations are completed by all participants during and after program involvement. The history of our breast cancer programming indicates that participants will experience increased feelings of hope, lowered depression and will feel a connection to other women in similar situations.

Navigation Services:

Dearborn County Hospital – The Nurse Navigator/FNP is essential for the provision of comprehensive coordination of care encompassing advanced diagnostic, treatment and/or reconstructive procedures for clients with an abnormal screening or abnormal screening/diagnostic mammograms. The Navigator/FNP also provides education, reference and support for clients, families and the public. Special emphasis is placed on assisting underserved women.

The Nurse Navigator/FNP will ensure that clients receive timely and appropriate advanced clinical care, related follow-up and social services to help facilitate the best possible patient outcomes.

 Emergency Aid Program: Breast Cancer Patient Financial Assistance

Cancer Family Care – These supplemental dollars for women undergoing treatment for breast cancer expands the financial assistance and service offerings. Women with an established financial need may contact Cancer Family Care to access these one-time only dollars to assists in identified expenses unrelated to treatment, but critical in the overall rehabilitative care of women with a diagnosis. Women in the Affiliate’s 21-county service area may be eligible for these dollars.


Advocacy Summit 2015

The Advocacy Alliance of Susan G. Komen for the Cure® uses the power of activism to achieve important legislative objectives at federal, state and local levels.  Three women from the Greater Cincinnati Affiliate put that activism into practice as they joined Komen Advocates from all over the country to spend the day on Capitol Hill lobbying their legislators.

On April 16, 2015, Peggy Isenogle, Executive Director, and Melissa Traylor, Affiliate & Finance Manager, of the Komen Greater Cincinnati Affiliate, along with volunteer advocate, Donna Traylor, spent the day on Capitol Hill lobbying legislators that serve the regions covered by the Cincinnati Affiliate.  This includes districts in the Greater Cincinnati, Greater Dayton, Southeastern Indiana, and Northern Kentucky areas.


Peggy, Melissa and Donna with Ohio Senator Rob Portman

Current economic conditions place unprecedented strains on federal and state budgets. Susan G. Komen® is committed to empowering people, ensuring quality of care for all and energizing science to find the cure. We called on lawmakers to join us in committing to improving access to lifesaving services and removing insurance barriers to cancer treatments.

The first issue we advocated for was preserving women’s access to breast cancer screening by funding the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) at $275 million in the FY16 budget. The President’s proposed budget includes a 20% reduction for the NBCCEDP bringing funding for FY16 to $148 million. We asked our legislators to support the funding at $275 million so that the NBCCEDP will be able to screen half a million women for breast and cervical cancer. The NBCCEDP provides potentially life-saving breast cancer screening and diagnostic services to low-income, uninsured and underinsured women who do not qualify for Medicaid. Ensuring adequate funding to vital safety-net programs like the NBCCEDP is key to ensuring all women have access to vital screening services.

The second issue we were advocating for was to ensure breast cancer patients can access the treatments they need by supporting legislation that eliminates the disparity in coverage between oral and IV anti-cancer medications. Patients should not be forced to chose a less appropriate treatment option simply because an insurer provides less coverage for a cancer drug that happens to be administered by mouth rather than intravenously. Patients and their physicians should be free to make treatment decisions based on what is best for that patient. Ohio passed this oral parity legislation in June of 2014, and both Kentucky and Indiana have also passed oral parity legislation. We were able to thank our legislators for passing the legislation in those 3 states, but also inform them that a Federal Oral Parity law is important to pass due to state legislation not covering all health insurance plans which leaves a significant number of patients without access to affordable treatment.


Melissa and Peggy with Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly

Peggy, Melissa and Donna were able to meet with several key staff members of the Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana Senate, along with staff from the Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana House of Representatives. Everyone was very interested in what we had to say and very supportive of our cause. Many of the staff members have been touched by breast cancer in some way. It was great to be able to connect on a personal level with so many individuals.

All in all, Advocacy Day 2015 was a huge success! We made a lot of connections and will certainly be following up with and building relationships with our lawmakers.

Check a Box, Save a Life

You have the power to save a life, by simply checking a box on your 2014 Ohio state tax return.

The Ohio Affiliates of Susan G. Komen® were proud to support HB 112, recently signed into law, which will allow Ohio taxpayers to contribute a portion of their state tax refund directly to the Ohio Breast and Cervical Cancer Project (BCCP). Ohio’s BCCP, funded at the current levels, is only able to serve about five percent of the eligible women in Ohio. The BCCP Tax Check-Off will enable the program to serve up to 1,700 additional women (approximately an 11 percent increase) with life saving and cost saving access to early detection, diagnostics, and treatment.

Tax Check-Off Legislation

  • To ensure low-income, uninsured Ohio women have access to the BCCP’s life-saving services, the tax check-off will allow Ohioans to voluntarily contribute any portion of their eligible state tax refund directly to the BCCP to support breast cancer screenings across the state.
  • With maximum support, the tax check-off could allow as many as 1,700 additional women, an increase of almost 11 percent, to receive screening through the BCCP.
  • The Ohio Affiliates of Susan G. Komen will launch a social media campaign to activate our supporters and the general public to participate in the tax check-off. We will share pieces of this campaign with you to share with your constituents.
  • For the 2014 tax year, the State of Ohio has pledged to match all BCCP tax check-off contributions three-to-one, increasing the potential impact by 75 percent.

Ohio’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Project (BCCP)

  • Ohio’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Project (BCCP) provides breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to women in Ohio who do not qualify for Medicaid and have annual incomes at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.
  • If a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer through the program, she is eligible for treatment for her cancer through BCCP Medicaid, which she may not have been eligible for based on her income. This is a critical and life saving safety net for the working poor in our state. In Ohio, these are the same women who make too much to be Medicaid eligible and too little to qualify for stipends on the state insurance exchange.
  • BCCP provided screenings to 15,000 Ohio women last year and diagnosed more than 200 cancers.
  • State funding to BCCP was reduced from $5 million in general revenue funds in FY08/09 to only $1.6 million in FY12/13 – a cut of almost 70 percent. State funding has remained level in current years.
  • At current funding levels, the BCCP can serve only six percent of the more than 270,000 eligible women in Ohio.

Breast Cancer in Ohio

  • In 2013, 9,060 Ohio women were diagnosed with breast cancer and nearly 1,720 died of the disease.
  • Ohio is 32nd in the nation in incidence of breast cancer but ranks 4th in mortality.
  • Early detection is a key to survival. When breast cancer is detected early, before it spreads beyond the breast, the 5-year survival rate is 98 percent. Once the cancer cells spread to other parts of the body, survival rates plummet to 23 percent.
  • Early detection saves Ohio money. When breast cancer is detected at later stages, treatment is up to 3 times more expensive than when it is detected early.

Print and share this BCCP Flyer.

Tax check off image_ Twitter

Focus on Fundraising: Knocking Out Breast Cancer

The Komen Greater Cincinnati blog is back! We will be blogging a few times a month. If you have an inspirational story, topic or idea you’d like to share please contact Melissa at We’d love to hear from you!

This month’s post is focused on fundraising. Enjoy!

Brian Lane is 26. He works for his family’s business. He graduated from Miami University, played football for Moeller and started boxing at The Punch House in 2012. Sounds like your average guy right? Well, this average guy was able to raise over $6,000 for Susan G. Komen Greater Cincinnati in November 2014.

Rewind to the spring of 2014, Brian was on a business trip when his dad called and told him to cut the trip short and come home right away. When Brian got home, he walked into the kitchen to find his sisters looking somber, and his mom and dad waiting. There is never an easy way to tell anyone that someone they love has breast cancer, so Brian’s dad Mike came right out with it, “Your mom has breast cancer.” As Brian tells on his GoFundMe page, “I remember hitting the floor in tears searching for my breath. All I could hear were my sisters crying and my dad saying, ‘I am sorry there’s no easy way to deliver that message.’ Finally I feel someone’s hands pick my 270lbs body up, and go figure, the only person strong enough to do that was my mom, Holly Lane.”

Brian had been boxing and working out at The Punch House since 2012. The gym was a place he could go to talk to a friend or let out all his anger while taking it out on a bag. He’d been asked numerous times to take part in a Client Fight Night. But he always declined. He was approached again in September of 2014 and this time he had a reason to say yes, he thought to himself “Brian, your mom fought and she didn’t have a choice. It’s time to put your mind to something and dedicate yourself to something bigger than you and give it your all, win or lose.” He decided that if he was going to get punched, he was going to do it in the fight against breast cancer. So Brian teamed up with The Punch House on November 14th to Knock-Out Breast Cancer.

His goal was to raise $1,500, and within the first few days he had raised $3,000! Brian used It’s easy to use, easy to set up and you can link it to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. That way it’s easy for friends to share, so easy that in just a few days Brian’s Facebook post about the event had close to 500 shares! His close friends and family started donating first, and then it snowballed into friends of friends, his parents’ classmates, and people he didn’t even know. In just a month he had raised over $6,000! He said he didn’t do much planning, it all just happened.

Brian and his family

Brian and his family

On November 14 Brian entered the ring at The Punch House, wearing pink, to a crowd of 500 people – the majority there to support him of course. In the end his opponent’s hand was raised as the winner, but Brian says the fight could not have been closer. And we could not agree more with him when he says “I knew I won before I stepped into the ring.”

Brian and his mom embrace after his fight

Brian and his mom embrace after his fight

If you’d like to learn more about Brian’s story, please visit

week six… the one who does it all

November 4th, 2012- a day to celebrate a 10-year survivor, my sister, Jeannie.  But rewind 10 years,  November 4th ,2002- a day we would like to forget.  The words, “you have cancer,” were unbelievable and devastating.  But to my 30-year old sister, it was the day she stepped up to the plate, ready for the fight of her life.  She had been diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer and had a long road ahead. Thinking back on her journey, she would agree, there was a large down side; lumpectomy, chemo, radiation, hair loss, nausea, dozens of doctor appointments, and a hysterectomy.  But all this is overshadowed by the life lessons and good that have come since that day.  She learned to take small steps to get to a goal, especially in fighting breast cancer.  She learned to surround herself with positive people and positive stories. She learned not to sweat the small stuff.  She has met so many new people along her journey;  some that have given her courage to keep fighting and some that she has been able to inspire with hope.  She has never questioned “why?”, but instead, “what can I do to help.”  She learned what her true strength is, the meaning of faith and the power of hope.  Her favorite quote, “what lies behind us and before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

Jeannie’s daughter at the Race for the Cure

During my sister’s battle, she organized her first Race for the Cure team, one that rallied family, friends, doctors and nurses alike, to join together in celebrating her journey.  This year will be her tenth year for a team.  The day touches our hearts just the same as the very first race we attended.  We are so proud to be in the presence of such strong women and men who have won the battle, and just as aware of the strength of those we have lost to the disease.   For this is why my sister continues to join Komen in finding a cure.  She too has lost a dear friend and made her a promise that she would continue the fight.

Jeannie and friends at the 2009 Race for the Cure

This diagnosis certainly was not my sister’s plan for her life at the age of 30, but today could not imagine her life without THIS plan.  She believes this has made her the person she is today and defined her mission in life. She strives to make a difference in the lives of those touched by breast cancer and hopes one day to prevent any others from the battle.   She reaches out to any newly diagnosed women to answer questions, listen, and cheer them on.  Jeannie has been able support and encourage our three aunts that have been diagnosed since her journey. She also helps Komen Cincinnati in any way possible.  She organizes survivor gift bags each year for the Race for the Cure along with family and friends, she volunteers for many Komen events to raise breast cancer awareness, and has appeared on news programs promoting self-detection and yearly exams.  She believes strongly in their cause.  She has even inspired her daughter, Hope, who has had a lemonade stand raising money for the Race, remembering each dollar is another step closer to finding a cure.
So this November 4th we will celebrate the life of one of the strongest people I know, my sister Jeannie.  We will place ten pink flamingos in her front yard, one for each year of survival.  This is an annual family ritual that reminds my sister to smile because she is a SURVIVOR.   The flamingo represents grace and beauty,   both of which she has displayed on her journey.  She encourages others to celebrate their “day” with something that inspires them as well.  We look forward to herding a flock.

Jeannie’s flamingos!