Insight Into Komen’s 2017 Research Grants

This year, Komen announced $30.7 million in research funding for 98 research grants which will mostly focus on discovering new treatments and improving our understanding of the most lethal forms of breast cancer – helping us move closer to achieving our Bold Goal.

For the first time, Komen will be giving members of the public an opportunity to directly fund specific research by participating in a crowdfunding initiative on Komen’s website.

We wanted to share with you the grant process and how the 2017 portfolio breaks down this year since 75% of net proceeds from your fundraising support this research and we could not accomplish any of this work without you.

Peer-Review

Komen has a renowned peer-review process – lead by Komen’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) – that ensures the organization is funding the best and most imperative forms of research. Advocates and breast cancer patients also take part in peer-review, to ensure all aspects of breast cancer needs are being covered. You can learn more about peer-review here.

The 2017 research grants came through the request for applications (RFA) issued last year, prior to the Bold Goal announcement in September of 2016. Still, 41.3% of Komen’s grants are focusing on metastatic breast cancer research and 54.4% of grants are focusing on new treatments.

The 2018 process for new proposals began in April and all applications submitted were asked to directly support Komen’s efforts towards the Bold Goal. Researchers were invited to submit projects that addressed metastasis or resistance to current therapies.

This Year

In 2017, Komen research funding went to institutions in 27 states and across 8 countries. The majority of grants are focusing on new screening technologies, metastatic and aggressive types of breast cancer and understanding and addressing disparities in breast cancer. By targeting metastatic disease – which is responsible for almost all of the nation’s 40,000 annual breast cancer deaths – Komen is hoping to reduce breast cancer deaths in the U.S. dramatically. To date, Komen has funded more than $180 million in metastatic breast cancer research. 2017 funding also includes $17.6 million to early-career investigators which helps to ensure a continuum of breast cancer research across generations.

Komen’s 2017 portfolio includes*:

  • 37 grants expanding our knowledge of metastatic breast cancer and how to better treat it or prevent it;
  • 42 grants looking into triple negative breast cancer, an aggressive subtype of breast cancer; 59 grants focused on new therapies;
  • 24 investigating drug resistance (why drugs stop working in some patients);
  • 9 on disparities in breast cancer outcomes;
  • As well as projects investigating inflammatory breast cancer, early detection, prevention, Big Data and more.

Crowdfunding

This fall, Komen is making it possible for supporters to make a personal impact on breast cancer research. During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, Komen will highlight four metastatic breast cancer researchers and encourage donations to their specific grants. More information on the crowdfunding initiative will be announced in October.

Thank You!

When you walk and raise money you are making a direct contribution to our grants. Funds that you raise through 3-Day could  support a young scientist for a day working toward finding the cures, or could support an oncologist for a day as they run clinical trials to find the cures for breast cancer. We could not fund potentially lifesaving research without your help and support. Thank you for the impact that you make here at Komen and always being More Than Pink.

You can learn more about Komen’s 2017 funding here.

A Survivor’s Story: Tracey Aho

This October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re sharing stories of survivors. Read our most recent post from Sherri O’Berry here, and today, we’re honored to share Tracey Aho’s story.

Like many others before her, Tracey’s breast cancer journey started when someone close to her—her mother—was diagnosed. It was after her mom’s second breast cancer diagnosis, Tracey recalls, that she took action for her own health. “Based on my family history as well as previous scares on personal mammogram results, I decided to see a specialist as a preventative measure. After a few visits and a few tests, we decided that I would have an MRI. It was then that the tumor was spotted and a biopsy was ordered. I was told that the results would take a day or two and knowing my doctor, I knew she would call me as soon as she had the results.”

Years prior to this frightening turn of events, Tracey became part of the Komen 3-Day. “I had heard about the 3-Day over the years but was watching TV one night in 2014 and saw a commercial. This was shortly after my cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer and I sat there thinking, “I should do that. I’m not doing anything for Jennifer (my cousin) just sitting here”. I thought about it for a few minutes and then decided to register. Almost immediately after I did, I thought, ‘What in the world did I just do?’” What she did was step up to the challenge of the 3-Day and crush it. She raised over $2500 for the 2014 Michigan 3-Day, then came back and did it again in 2015.tracey-aho-1

Flash back ahead to the spring of 2016, and Tracey was in a meeting when her phone rang with the call that would change her life. “My boss knew I was waiting for this call and of course immediately excused me from the meeting. My doctor asked me if I wanted to go home first and then call her back but based on her question alone, I knew I was going to want the results right then. She confirmed that I did indeed have breast cancer.

“My immediate reaction was not shock; I had prepared myself for the worst but prayed for the best so I was mentally ready to hear the diagnosis. Of course there were tears and nervousness but my next two thoughts were ‘How am I going to tell my son, husband and the rest of the family’ and ‘What’s the plan?’

“I received my diagnosis on March 17, 2016 and my husband and I were in the doctor’s office the very next day discussing treatments. I had a couple of options which included a lumpectomy but due to other health issues that I have, we decided on a bilateral mastectomy followed by reconstruction surgery.

“Follow-up treatment was still unknown at that time but eventually, my doctor ruled out radiation and my oncologist wanted to run an oncotype test to determine the aggressiveness of the tumor before he could advise if chemotherapy was necessary. My results came back in the low intermediate stage so we decided that I would not need chemo.”

Tracey had walked in the 3-Day two times before her diagnosis, but 2016’s Michigan 3-Day was special for her: “This year was a little different for me because it was my first as a survivor. I kept thinking, ‘I’m very blessed. I could be getting chemo treatments or worse right now but I’m here.’”tracey-aho-2

We’re glad you’re here, Tracey, and thanks to you and all the people in our 3-Day community, we’re working hard on ending breast cancer forever.

A Survivor’s Story: Sherri O’Berry

Editor’s Note: Survivors are the heroes of the 3-Day, and we celebrate them with every step we take. Breast Cancer Awareness Month means not only talking about how we can save more lives, it means talking about the lives that have been saved. As you read this, the first of a set of stories about survivors, know that every dollar you raise for the 3-Day is helping to save lives like Sherri’s.

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My name is Sherri O’Berry. I was diagnosed with breast cancer on August 1, 2013. I was only 42 years old. Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Stage 2. The news was grim as I had lost both of my grandmothers to cancer (one to breast cancer) and only knew this disease to be a death sentence. I am a single mother raising three teenagers. When I was diagnosed, I was so afraid I would not be here to watch them grow up. How would they take the news? How could they live without me? Would I get to see them graduate? Get married? Know my grandchildren? I was so scared, in shock, denial, angry. The only thing I could do was make a plan to kick cancer’s butt!

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Within 3 weeks of being diagnosed I was headed into surgery. I opted for a partial mastectomy. Following that surgery, I had another surgery to have my port put in and by October 1st, I was starting treatment. I had six rounds of intensive chemotherapy in 16 weeks. The next several months would determine my fate.

I lost my complete identity. Slowly, the chemo overtook my body. First my hair, then my eyebrows and lashes. I was devastated. Following my first treatment I was hospitalized because my body became so dehydrated and I was really sick. Following my second treatment, in the middle of the night I hit my head falling down the stairs and had to be hospitalized again. It was my 43rd birthday. This was definitely not where I had planned to be at this young age.

Following chemo, I was scheduled for 35 rounds of radiation. Radiation did not seem nearly as difficult as chemo but only time would tell. I had to be tattooed, marked, measured, and on camera day after day. Fatigue was taking its toll on me. The effects of chemo were lingering, as I was warned it would. On day 18 of 35 the Doctor made a choice to stop my radiation treatments because my blood levels were extremely low. Every day that passed at this point was making my previous treatments inactive. Whoa! What another blow! I was terrified.

Every second of every day was a roller coaster of emotions. Finally on April 20th 2014, I completed my 35th round of radiation. I was cancer free! Or was I? That is the question I asked myself over and over. Wasn’t there a test they could give me to tell if the cancerous cells were gone? No, I had to walk away confident that between my surgery and my treatments that I was now cancer free. I learned that being a “survivor” was being alive every day after diagnosis.

My family and friends embraced me tightly and we moved forward,  the only direction I chose to look! I was surrounded by an outpouring of support from everyone in the community. My dear friend set up a meal plan and people I didn’t even know were delivering hot meals daily during my treatments to feed me and my kids. Packages were arriving daily, flowers delivered and my friends put together a benefit for me and raised thousands of dollars for me. I could focus 100% on fighting this awful disease.

One day during my hospital visit someone told me about the Susan G Komen 3-Day. I knew immediately this was a way for me to give back. I was so extremely grateful to learn about all the people who had already been a part of the 3-Day. I started fundraising right away. The first year I walked with 2 dear friends, one of whom was also going through breast cancer treatment at the same time I was. The 2 of us still undergoing treatment were not even sure we would be healthy enough to walk by that August, but raising the money was more important to us than actually participating at that point. This became so important to me. I wanted to raise awareness. I wanted to help find a cure! I was so proud to be part of this movement that would help those diagnosed after me. I was hooked! Once I learned about the 3-Day Youth Corps, I knew right away that my girls would participate with me the following year.

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As a family we started fundraising for the following year’s walk. We did so many bottle drives to collect money, we made crafts and sold them at craft shows, we were given private donations, Euchre Tournament, Dining for Dollars at a local restaurant and garage sales. The walk was not only about the three days, it was about paying it forward. Bonding with my girls. Making sure they understood exactly why we were doing everything we were doing.

Ten months later, it was time for the grand experience. I was so proud of my girls (ages 13 and 15), as they had become just a passionate as I was. The amazing weekend brought us even closer together. We were surrounded by so many other people that were affected by this awful disease and it was like our new extended family. My girls bonded so well with the other 18 kids in the Youth Corps that they have a close relationships that will likely last a lifetime. The weekend was life changing for all three of us. Both of my daughters had to speak in front of a group of 500+ people and explain how they have been affected by cancer.

This past August 2016 my older daughter (age 17) walked with me, and my younger daughter (age 15) was part of the Youth Corps again.

August 2017 will be another change for us, as my youngest is now old enough to join me as a walker. She is beyond excited and looking forward to the challenge.

I always say cancer was the best worst thing that has happened to me. My life has forever changed and I am forever grateful! The 3-Day will be part of my life until we find a cure.