- Race Information
- Friends for the Cure Fundraising
- Breast Cancer Survivors
- Participant Center
- I AM KOMEN®
- Photo Gallery
- Brainerd Lakes Race for the Cure®
- Brainerd Lakes Race for the Cure- Registration
- Brainerd Lakes Race for the Cure- Information
- Brainerd Lakes- Teams
- Brainerd Lakes- Survivors
- Brainerd Lakes- Make a Donation
- Brainerd Lakes- 5K Race Results
- Brainerd Lakes- Volunteer
- Brainerd Lakes- Honorary Chairs
- Brainerd Lakes- Sponsors
- Brainerd Lakes- About Us
- Ginger Brauer Award
- Shop for the Cure
Breast Cancer Stories- Join us here as we continue to share stories that celebrate the women and men who inspire us all!
Rally for the Cure - Golf, tennis, dinner events and so much more...
Go Passionately Pink to help save lives! — Just wear pink, have fun and raise money to fight breast cancer. Be inspired by the multitude of ideas right here, or think of your own. There are so many creative ways to have fun and fight breast cancer.
Mission in Action
Grantee Success Stories
Stories provided by past grantees of individuals who have been helped by Susan G. Komen Minnesota funding.
These stories represent real-life examples of how, through the Komen Minnesota Community Grants Program, donor dollars are making a difference. Please take a moment to read and be inspired.
Allina Associated Foundation: Marilyn is a 77 year old woman who underwent a double mastectomy for Stage II breast cancer. Marilyn is widowed and lives on a fixed income. She drives about 40 miles each way for chemo, and gas and other expenses related to her cancer have consumed most of her liquid assets. Because of the Hope Fund, we were able to provide Marilyn with "breathing room" by helping her pay utility bills and other bills and by providing her with some gas cards.
RS was diagnosed with Stage 2B breast cancer in June of this year. Because of complications, she has not been able to return to work since her surgery. RS was referred to the Hope Fund by a treatment team member of another health system who learned that RS was nearing eviction. She had not qualified for financial assistance at the time, and she used all of her savings. At the time she came to us, she was relying on friends and family for food, transportation, and loans. Because of the Hope Fund, we were able to help RS catch up on her rent payments, and we provided food and gas cards so she didn’t have to rely on friends and family. Since that initial award, RS has been able to get financial assistance so she is no longer in danger of eviction. We have given her gas and grocery cards two additional times, but this allows her to stay current on other bills. RS joked with the social worker that the program did exactly what it’s name promised to do—it gave her HOPE.
American Indian Cancer Foundation: The individual that comes to mind is an American Indian woman that traveled hours to attend our 5th Annual Powwow for Hope. Every year, we gift ladies with pink shawls who are caregivers and survivors at our Powwow for Hope. This individual is a breast cancer survivor who is an excellent role model in her community. She was diagnosed in May of 2010 but with the help of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Mobile Mammography Unit, she was able to spot her cancer early enough to have it treated and removed. She was able to consider herself cancer-free as of 2015. She is also one of the main employees from her reservation who started the first cancer support group on their reservation which has been successful. During their sessions, members of the support group made their own Pink Shawls with the intent to use the shawls at upcoming powwows. We worked in partnership with this support group and individual to coordinate a Pink Shawl honor song in the communities powwow.
Angel Foundation: Patty is 28 year old mother of one being treated for Stage IV breast cancer. Her husband lost his job during the course of her treatment and her family had absolutely no income. Her social worker contacted Angel Foundation on her behalf. Thanks to funding from Susan G. Komen Minnesota, we were able to provide Patty with a $600 for rent, $100 in gas cards, and $150 in food cards. After receiving her grant, Macy sent us a hand-made thank-you card: “Dear Angel Foundation, first and foremost, I’d like to say ‘thank you’ for your generosity with helping me, as well as others out, in this time of hardship. Angel Foundation, you are greatly appreciated! Your help has touched me in a way that on other words can describe. May God bless you and multiply your kindness and fruitfully spread the love to those are in need in their times of hardship, especially when cancer strikes. Once again, thank you for helping me. It’s so healing, to know that there is help and others who really care!”
Cancer Legal Line: On February 12, a 37 year old woman named "Kay” contacted us for emergency help. She had been receiving coverage through MNSure because her company did not provide health insurance. Her husband was changing jobs and thought they would be covered with his new employer on February 1. Because of this, Kay called MNSure in January and told them she wouldn't need coverage starting February 1. On February 3, they learned that her husband's coverage wouldn't start until March 1. Kay called MNSure back and they said, they had already canceled her coverage and it was too late for her to rescind her notice. MNSure said she needed to enroll in UCare. UCare told her she should be covered for February and she sent them a check on February 3 check. On February 4, Kay was diagnosed with a Stage IV aggressive breast cancer. On February 12, Kay received a letter from UCare saying she in fact was NOT covered. Kay had a PET scan scheduled for the following week and was set to begin her treatment. She could not do any of this without insurance coverage. Kay contacted CALL after learning about the BCLP from her social worker. CALL was able to provide information and connect Kay with one of our volunteers who is an expert in MNSure coverage issues. The next day, Kay called us and said, "When I called UCare and told them that I had contacted Cancer Legal Line, they figured out a way to resolve the issue!!" and that she is now fully covered for all of her care beginning February 1.
“Beth” a woman with breast cancer contacted us when she learned that her health insurance had been cancelled with no prior notice. She went to the clinic for a scheduled scan and was told upon presenting her insurance card that her insurance was no longer in effect. She had been scheduled to start a course of Ibrance for her advanced breast cancer (average market cost is $10,600 for 21 doses). We contacted MNSure on her behalf to try and determine why her insurance had been cancelled with no notice, but got nowhere with them. We then were able to enlist the help of a CALL volunteer who is a retired health insurance executive. He helped connect us to someone at the insurance company who coordinated information a CALL volunteer attorney needed to prepare an appeal of the MNSure denial, and also worked with the Ombudsman at the Department of Health and Human Services who fast-tracked the issue and was able to retroactively qualify Beth for Medical Assistance as of June 1. Three weeks later, Beth’s prescription for Ibrance was delivered to her door right in time to stay on her treatment protocol as her care team had planned. Things should not be this complicated, but so often they are. At the end of this saga, Beth told us, “thank you for never giving up!”
Care Partners: I am 44 years old and a wife, mother of 3 and a very active person. I eat healthy most of the time and exercise daily. I am an avid runner and was running 5 times a week prior to my diagnosis. I went in for my routine mammogram. There was a small spot detected - and after additional views - they scheduled a biopsy after an MRI showed multiple spots in my left breast. I had no symptoms. The biopsy came back positive. I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma stage IIB. I had a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction surgery. Due to small trace of cancer cells in my sentinal node, they requested I have 6 treatments of chemotherapy. I also tested positive for the BRCA1 gene, so I will be having a hysterectomy. This also means now my children have to be tested for this gene mutation. I have been so blessed to have the financial assistance of Care Partners. My husband has been laid off from the steel mining industry and I have missed a lot of work since my diagnosis. Care Partners eases a lot of stress and anxiety for my husband and me, knowing we have help to pay our bills and travel to the cities for my treatments and surgeries. Thank you so much.
Essentia Health St. Joseph’s Foundation: We had a young lady undergoing treatment for an aggressive form of breast cancer. She was unable to work and through no fault of his own, her husband lost his job at the same time. In the process, they lost their house but we were able to assist them in relocating to an apartment by paying the first and last month payment and various deposits. The treatments also did extensive damage to her teeth and she was experiencing excruciating pain. Although they had insurance, the cost of the dental surgery and the deductible were very high. They could not afford to do the surgery but we were able to work with a local dentist and oral surgeon to get the work done. Between some payment by the Pink Ribbon Cupboard, and donations from the dentist and surgeon, the young lady's pain is gone and they had no cost. The Board saw this as a special case whereby we considered the assistance of the professionals as extenuating. In this case she posted on Facebook, I learned today "that angels wear pink and live in a cupboard". That made us very proud and proved to us that we are on the right tract.
We had a young family move into the area due to an employment transfer. The young woman was here alone until her husband could join her. She has a 4 year old, a 1 year old and was pregnant when diagnosed with breast cancer. We were able to help with gas cards, groceries, and mortgage payment while going through chemotherapy treatment. In addition, the community has become very supportive of this family since hearing her story. She has participated in one of our events we held and described her health issues and how the Pink Ribbon Cupboard helped her and her family.
Gunderson: A woman who attended our screening event at the Houston County Fair had found a lump in her breast that morning. Her family was quite worried and encouraged her to be screened at the Fair. Her husband shared with our team that she had found the lump in her breast. Our provider performed a clinical breast exam and assured the woman that her lump was not a concern. This gave immediate relief to her and her family that it was not anything to be worried about.
Hennepin Health Foundation: M is a 54 year old female diagnosed with invasive carcinoma of the breast.. She and her husband live in Blaine, MN and have 2 adult children who live in nearby states with their spouses. Both of them work full time, she is a coder for a local hospital and works from home. She has several hobbies, but most of note is her excellence as a quilter. She has made some amazing blankets! She came to our clinic after discovering a lump in her left breast, came in for a mammogram. After the mammogram, she had a biopsy which showed cancer in her breast and in her left axilla. We saw her in clinic, and discovered several other concerning problems – pain in her back, her calcium level was very high, her kidneys were not working well and she was quite anemic. Her disease had affected much of her body. In those first months, she was in and out of the hospital every other week for different problems and the start of aggressive chemotherapy. She could not work and her husband, who was with her all the time, could not work either. After the early days, she would be in clinic for for doctor visits, chemotherapy, scans, and lab work. She was here 3 days a week, her husband driving her back and forth from Blaine every time. In no time, her sick benefits from work were depleted as were his. Co pays for everything were mind boggling. We were able to offer her grocery cards. Having that support freed up funds to help with co-pays and helped them manage their debt. They are grateful.
Minnesota Department of Health: In the 2015-2016 funding period, Komen funds paid for approximately 480 visits, 925 screening mammograms, 250 diagnostic mammograms, 2,440 CAD services, 120 ultrasounds, and 160 women received further breast diagnostic services.
A mid-forty year old woman called the Sage Call Center because she needed an ultrasound and eventually an MRI to follow-up a screening mammogram that had a possible finding. She worked with our patient navigator and eventually one of Sage's nurses to find a place to get follow-up care scheduled. She was very concerned because although she did have health insurance, she couldn't afford the copay and deductible charges for the services. She asked our navigator, "What should I do? Take care of myself or feed my kids?" Luckily she met Sage's income guidelines and was eligible to have her follow-up care covered that her insurance did not pay. Because she was under the age of 50, this care was covered with Komen funds.
Neighborhood HealthSource: “Agnes” lives two doors down from the Fremont Clinic in North Minneapolis. When she learned that we offer mobile on-site mammogram events at our clinic she was ecstatic. Agnes had a friend who died of breast cancer at age 25, and breast cancer runs in her family - one of her cousins died of breast cancer. Agnes shared that her cousin never went to the doctor for a mammogram because she was too scared. So after watching her cousin’s experience she never misses one. Agnes says, “This is just such a great thing you do. This program is saving lives! I couldn’t believe I could get a mammogram at Fremont Clinic, but I walked up and saw the big van and I was so excited. It’s so nice that it’s so close.”
Open Arms: With support from Susan G. Komen Minnesota, from April 1 to March 31, 2016, Open Arms prepared and delivered 69,787 meals to 373 clients affected by breast cancer. This includes 285 primary clients (those diagnosed with breast cancer), 38 caregivers, and 50 dependents. 246 of these clients were new to Open Arms.
Many of Open Arms’ clients face hardships before they receive a diagnosis that leads them to us. For those clients in particular, even those who are fortunate enough to have strong support networks in their friends and family, Open Arms’ service is an important lifeline as they try to focus on healing. A recent card from Peggy, a 2nd grade teacher with breast cancer, illustrates this situation and how our meals were an important resource for her and her family.
“I wanted to send you a special thank you. I received your weekly meal service from late summer through Thanksgiving 2015. I received a diagnosis of breast cancer in May 2015 and was amazed to hear of your organization through my nurse navigator. The meals were so tasty and interesting, and, of course, very healthy. Receiving your meal service was such a blessing and removed so much stress from our lives. Participating in your meal program allowed me to continue to work as a 2nd grade teacher throughout the months of my treatment. My deepest appreciation!”
Pathways: Below is an excerpt from a thank you letter received from one of our retreat participants:
“I have survived two breast cancer illnesses, and am currently living with Leukemia. I am writing to let you know just how wonderful the camaraderie was for myself and the other women who attended. We all felt the glow throughout, and after this special retreat....There are few opportunities in our lives to have a forum like this, where communication is encouraged, understood, and very much needed in our separate and often painful journeys. The material that Pathways provides for facilitating this retreat holds so much wisdom and hope, and tools for going through what we go through. We do not find this in our daily lives, as no one can completely understand what we go through, like our sisters in the cancer maze can.
Regions Hospital Health Foundation: One Hmong woman with four children was admitted to the hospital after a stroke, and while here she had an oncology work-up that revealed stage II breast cancer. In addition to the significant deficits she experienced as a result of the stroke, including vision changes, she also had to undergo chemotherapy to treat her cancer. Her husband worked two jobs to help keep their family afloat, and your contribution helped us pay their utility bills.
The program also assisted a young woman in paying her mortgage and utility bills. Because of her treatment’s side effects, the woman was unable to work and lost her job. She is originally from China and all of her family remains there, so she had no one to support her locally. The grant helped her remain in her home.
One woman was months behind on her rent after starting treatment for cancer. She had to stop working during treatment and had to wait months before receiving disability. The contribution from Susan G. Komen Minnesota allowed us to offer her assistance with her rent.
Another single mother with two young daughters received help with her rent and utilities. By alleviating the financial burden on this young woman, her anxieties about her basic living needs were eased and she was able to focus more on her health and on caring for her young children."
Ridgeview Foundation- Pay It Forward Fund: Thank you Pay It Forward Fund! No one ever expects to get cancer, certainly not at age 38. I first discovered a lump in my right breast the day we celebrated my son’s 4th birthday in October of 2015. A week later, I went to my OBGYN to check it out. She immediately ordered a mammogram at the Hope Chest Breast Center. The next day, my biggest fear was confirmed and my world was turned upside down. I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Invasive Glandular Carcinoma. Since then, I also discovered I carry the gene mutation, BRCA2. So far, I have undergone 12 out 16 chemo treatments. Soon, I will undergo a bi-lateral mastectomy and oophorectomy, followed by 6 weeks of radiation. Months after that, I will have breast reconstruction. It’s a long road!
I am grateful for The Pay it Forward Fund! By the time that I had my port placed and all the scans and tests done, bills started coming in and it was Christmas time. I am grateful that I had the Pay it Forward fund to pay for expenses, like a big portion of my mortgage for the month. I didn’t have to worry about how I would be able to make Christmas happen for my son who is still too young to understand fully what’s going on. I was able to pay off insurance deductibles that I would have otherwise had to make payments on. Taking the stress off of financial burdens helped me focus on getting well, during the most difficult part of my chemo treatments. Fighting the Fight, Kristen
Following are excerpts from one patient's comments sent during the past six months: "Knowing that I could receive financial help, if needed, helped me concentrate on healing. I am forever grateful to the amazing woman [who founded PIFF] and her insight." Another wrote: "I have stage 4-breast cancer, which has metastasized to my bones. During my transition from short- to long-term disability, I went four weeks without an income. I was already behind on our house payment, so your timing was perfect. With your help, I was able to catch up and we can keep the house! Thank you! These quotes and many others like them that we receive encourage us that our program makes a positive impact on our funding priority, Treatment Support.
Southside: One of the many stories that stood out was from an African American woman in her early thirties. She gave a family history of her aunt who had passed away at an early age from breast cancer. She also shared that her mother had a lump removed after having a mammogram that revealed a mass. When the conversation continued to include breast health exams, she shared that she had not done a self-breast exam but she thought she had a clinical breast exam. One of our breast health community health workers was able to provide education about breast health and things to keep in mind given her personal family history and the fact that African American women have a history of getting breast cancer at an earlier age than other women. The woman was surprised to learn the breast cancer statistics for African American women. She was thankful for the Susan G. Komen brochures and she actually asked for additional tools to give to others. She explained that the conversation, although unexpected, was welcomed and she left feeling empowered, educated and ready to educate others in her family and community.
Southside Community Health Services (SCHS) regularly holds an outreach event at the Center for Changing Lives in Minneapolis. One of SCHS’s Outreach staff members had a conversation with an African American woman who was uninsured and had a family history of breast cancer. Once the woman became comfortable talking to the Outreach staff person, she explained that her mother and aunt had breast cancer and that she feared there was a genetic link. She heard about the importance of doing her Breast Self-Exams (BSE) and she said she did them from time to time however not regularly. She was unsure if she had a clinical breast exam (CBE). The Outreach staff person wanted to make sure the woman was receiving regular check-ups including women’s health care services and thus asked the woman if she had a primary care clinic. She said she did not and so the Outreach worker referred her to a provider for a CBE. The Outreach staff person also educated the woman about the importance of doing regular BSEs and receiving CBEs and mammograms. The Outreach staff person stressed that since the woman has risk factors for breast cancer and she is approaching the age of 40, it is very important to receive regular, recommended breast cancer exams. To remove the barrier to insurance, the Outreach worker provided the woman with information about the SAGE program as well as MNsure assistance. The woman was very thankful and followed up at another SCHS outreach event stating she completed her CBE.
Vietnamese Social Services: - A Vietnamese woman, P. B. came to visit her daughter in Minnesota as a tourist from Vietnam and intended to stay in Minnesota as an immigrant. She has a lump in her breast and the lump has opened a sore and was bleeding for a few months. She used herbal medicine to cover the sore. The daughter called our program when she heard about the mobile van that comes to VSS for free mammography in a collaboration with Park Nicollet and Minnesota Department of Health.
- The doctor found out her lump was extremely serious and she needed to go to see a surgeon immediately. She got a referral to Park Nicolle on the same day she came to VSS for a mammogram.
- She was diagnosed with breast cancer and needed treatment right away. VSS staff helped her to apply for Medical Assistance for breast cancer. She got approval for medical assistance for one month to have cancer treatment. After that, VSS staff had to help her to apply for emergency medical assistance program so, she will be able to continue with the treatment.
- P. B. is feeling better now after two months of treatment. She will still have to go for a long way for the cancer treatment. She would like to speak to other women to let them know that there are a lot of chances for survival and programs in America that can help women to prevent breast cancer. She would like to encourage women to please go to breast screening for early detection and don't wait until it is too late.
West Side Community Health Services: This is a story about a Mexican native who arrived at the clinic back in November with breast problems. A mammogram and other tests confirmed a cancer diagnosis. Her option was a lumpectomy and radiation. She struggled with side effects, but she kept strong. The CHW called often and encouraged the patient to keep fighting. She shared that her real pain was not the treatment. Her real pain was not having a good relationship with her children. She left them in El Salvador when they were young. She told about how she cried every night because of the decision she made all those years ago to choose survival and a better future for her family. Five years ago, she finally reunited with her three children. There was a problem though, because the patient had another daughter who was born here in the USA. The relationship between the older children and this youngest child was not good. The older children felt hurt from the 15 years they lived without their mother. They found it upsetting to see the youngest sister having the opportunity they never had of growing up with a mom right there. If there is something good that can come out of a cancer diagnosis, then this was it. Her family realized that their mother was really sick and that they could loose her. Through talk and understanding, they were able to forgive their mother. Now, they are fighting cancer together as a family. She has finished her treatments and is looking forward to a bright future surrounded by her children.