Faces of Komen

Survivors, caregivers, donors, volunteers and researchers are just a few of the Many Faces of Komen. Their powerful stories give us the fortitude to carry on and inspire us to put an end to breast cancer forever.

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Aletha Anderson

“As a volunteer with Komen, you gain far more than you give.”

Roseline Esteves

“Sometimes you have to sit back and let God and his helpers do their work.”



Allene Quay

“You have to enjoy each day and not take any day for granted.”

Brenda Kauffman

“I felt loved like I never had before.”

Barbara Caplan

“It is important to take care of your health and get mammograms no matter your age.”

Raina Casey

“Let your village take care of you and share your experience.”

Kelly Valade Vetere

“This is something we need to be paying attention to early on in our teenage years.”

Rochelle Williams-Belizaire

“The idea here is to take our knowledge, share it with others to effectively change the world.”

Paula Burt

“I do this for them, for my mom, for my sister, for my friends, for my family and for me.”

Dr. David Page

“We have to respect life and fight for it when cancer threatens it, and I get to help patients go through that journey.”

Brad Johnson

“Think of things that can bring them joy and happiness.”


Janet Long

“Any action, big or small can make a difference in someone’s life.”

Talia Schwartz

“The community I have of friends and family really rallied for me.”

Brent Bundy

“In the end we’re all fighting the same battle.”

Tina Flores

“Don’t let the cancer control you, you have to control the cancer.”

Tracy & Jessica Oliver

“It has been a dream to be able to honor her life through my work.”

Robin Ray-Rutherford

“Life really is all about what we make it, not what has been handed to us.”

Sharon Gary-Smith

“She’s fighting to live but she’s also fighting the system that is inherently embedded in racism and sexism”

Michelle Caplan

“We are our best advocates”

Chad Dias

“This is something that can affect anyone”

Leslie Ruminski

“You don’t remember anything they tell you after ‘you have cancer'”

Tai Harden-Moore

“Just listen, take action, and don’t give up.”

Dr. Kristina Young

“I am constantly inspired by my patients who demonstrate strength and bravery in the face of the unknown.”

Diane Estrada

“Put down the barriers and allow people to help.”

Morgan Roberts

“You are never too young for Breast Cancer.”

Darrin Treanor

“I learned what a powerful impact a positive attitude can have.”

Toni Storm-Dickerson

“I have the best job in the world. I get to heal people from the inside out.”

Kelly Michael

“My hope for the future of Komen is to inspire women of color who are underrepresented in our community to self advocate.”

Sonja Trytko

“You’ve got to just look for those silver linings.”

Kathy Kendrix

“Community is the hub for communication. Its where you turn to get your information; it’s always been that way.”

Maria Cabrera

“Never give up and continue to fight.”

Lorraine Hersey

“Personally, I beat it once – hoping I can do it again!”

Holly Donahue

“You’re going to meet exceptional people along the way that deeply touch your life. You’re going to want to remember those people; write it down.”

Robyn Bennett

“All I could do was cry.”

Mindy McKinstry

“Everybody is different, you cannot judge what’s going to happen to you by what you see on Facebook or online; everybody’s disease is different, everybody’s body reacts differently.”

Maria Flores

“Keep fighting for what we want for our family—for our life.”

Alexis Brown

“[Mom] took the time to sit down with my siblings and I to give us comfort and explain what was happening, even though she was the one that probably needed it more.”

Connie Shorb

“Take one day at a time and don’t look too far into the future”

Bob Ani

“I promised her I would continue fighting for as long as I could…I wouldn’t give up.”

Trish Farrell

“Everyone in pink shirts were of all shapes and sizes…I knew I wasn’t alone.”

Christy Weber

“With programs like ScreenWise, there’s no reason to not see a doctor—many woman don’t know they can apply to the program if they find a lump, uninsured,they can have their diagnostics done through ScreenWise.”

Cindy Medford

“The most insignificant yet most important thing to me were pillows, so I bought a dozen different people pillows for their treatment.”

Rochelle Williams-Belizaire

“Care leads to better research. You must care about your research if you are to be successful; you must care about the cancer patient if you are to be successful. The cancer patient that volunteers to be part of research must be provided unprecedented care towards medical treatment, home life, work life, etc.”

Marye-Elizabeth Leslie

“When you’re on the river, you leave your worries behind and focus on what you can do at that moment. It could be perceived as the worst thing that happened to me, but I did find joy in my journey.”

Chealsea Dawn

“I didn’t let it destroy or make me weak in any way. Mind, heart, body, and soul—I made it all the way through a happier woman.”

Dr. Bernard Fox

“The information from clinical trials is critical to the discovery of new treatments, provides insights and understanding of how the patients are responding to the treatment, and how we are changing the immune system to make it able to recognize and attack cancer.”

Sandra Dykes

“When I leave, I want [the people who were in my life] to feel that their life is better because they knew me. That’s sort of my motto.”

Tai Moore

“I told my doctor I want to see my kids graduate and start their lives. People like me are living with this every single day, who want a lifetime with our families, not just 2-4 years.”

Rebecca Seago-Coyle

“Having a goal really encouraged me to not lay down and let cancer take me—don’t ever give up, do what you love doing. You’re the CEO of you.”

Bori Gilchrist

“Since being on the [Ambassador Board], I have so much more gratitude for life…whenever I attend one of Komen’s events, I always leave wanting to do more and be more involved because of that gratitude.”

Kit Goujon

“Kit’s Rower was delivered the day she got her chemotherapy port put in. On the first day of her chemotherapy treatments, Kit went down to the dock, hugged the boat and made the commitment to get well enough to use it. “

Gunilla Admund

“When I walked through the finish line and they gave me that flower – I couldn’t explain it, I just had to do it, for me.”

Arya Morman

“I want to show other women that their ‘true story’ begins when you take off the mask and let the world see who you really are as you write the next chapter of your life through a lens of hope and not despair.”

Kathy Haywood

“This is my time to listen to my music, to scream, to cry, to pray, to do whatever it is I feel that day by myself.”

Barbara Braga

“’This disease does not own me…I’m not this disease.’ I say it every morning; it’s my mantra.”

Dr. Nathalie Johnson

“You must understand [your patient’s] emotions, so you can individualize their care and speak to their spirit.”

Angelina Anderson

“This is what I’m supposed to be doing; this is why I went down this path; this is why I left my job; this is right.”

Bill Amos

“Early in my journey I discovered the value of walking with strangers.  We were on the same path and it is far easier to get past an obstacle when you are with someone that has already been there”

Benita Backhaus

“Since my sister died of breast cancer, I made sure to check myself for lumps or anything odd-but I never found anything….my doctor did.”

Sioux Kriss

“Cancer didn’t win, and it doesn’t have to beat me while I journey forward.”

Dr. Gordon Mills

“The SMMART clinical trial is an incredible opportunity for the patients in Oregon and SW Washington to have access to an ability to characterize the patient and the tumor and how it changes overtime at a level that cannot be done anywhere else. Period.”

Paulo Lessing

“This is my favorite run in Portland. I send her the t-shirts, she wears them in Brazil. It’s going to be an amazing, meaningful race for me this year. I’ll be running for my best friend and my champion, who is my mom.”

Carole Bigwood

“If I find out someone has been diagnosed with breast cancer and they don’t have a dog, I tell them to get one. A dog is your best friend and cancer is not. Dogs don’t ask you how you’re feeling or comment on how you look. A dog will get you out of bed every day.”

Lesli Buford-Chadwick

“Do not take life for granted because you never know when something will change it so traumatically.”

Eryn Britton

“Don’t tell yourself I’m too young for cancer.”

Penny Perry

“The way I look at it is that it’s a part of my journey.”

Jennifer Ebner

“What a huge relief it was for me and my family to know there’s assistance for some of the costs associated with traveling to Portland for chemotherapy treatments, surgery and checkups.”

Lee Greer

“Not only should you take good care of yourself, but you should also try to surround yourself with a good support system”

Lieutenant Caprice Massey

“She had no choice but to step up, assess her situation, rely on the strengths of the people around her, make a plan, and reach her goals.”

Angela Rose

“I think it’s so important for women who are also dealing with this disease to never give up hope and if someone tells you you have stage 4 cancer, it’s not necessarily a death sentence. Even though the statistics will give you these numbers that are not favorable, I will never give up hope. I will never consider myself in the 99%, I’m going to be in the 1% that survives.”

Michael Kovarik

“I had enough fear of the disease that I didn’t ask about it.”

Ella Maney

“Going through this journey I have realized how much relationships matter, and how important it is to connect with people no matter what.”

Beverly Trzcinski

“Don’t hide it and let everybody know so you can be surrounded by love and care. You have so much more support.”

Brenda Marks

“Reach out to others in order to get the proper love and care that you need.”


April Holcomb

“Participating in the Race for the Cure as a survivor was definitely an experience. There is just so much support. Breast cancer is a bad experience, but it makes it a little easier with an organization like Susan G. Komen Oregon and SW Washington.”

Danielle Cooper

“I was 27 years old when I was diagnosed. I wasn’t even thinking about breast cancer.”

Adrienne San Nicolas

“I am so much stronger than I could have imagined, but that strength comes from my Lord. My faith is always what is going to get me through anything in life.”

Tiffany Farrah

“I have learned to be thankful for everything and every day I have. I want to be here for my family and kids, so I live life every day to its fullest.”

The Gray Family

Jane is battling metastatic breast cancer herself and Joe – as husband and cancer researcher – is committed personally and professionally to developing durable and tolerable approaches to controlling the disease.

Adrianne Santina

“I’m still learning. Cancer is a teacher. I’ve learned that I can endure what I thought was unimaginable. In that regard, it was very empowering.”

Stephanie Lipman

“Always keep a positive attitude because your body listens to your inner self.”

Dani Chambers

“It was horrible, in so many ways. But I have a new-found respect for life. I have more courage than I ever thought I could muster up and more strength than I thought possible. I have an incredible sense of pride. I love myself so much more now.”

Tiffany Langley

“My sister’s breast cancer diagnosis saved both our lives.”

Christina Mazdzer

“It doesn’t really end after everything is done. You have to keep taking one day at a time.”

Patricia Brown

“Together we can fight this disease through Komen services and research. There has been solid progress made in our battle against breast cancer but there is more we can do.”

Dr. Alison Conlin

“The truth is I do love being an oncologist, a breast cancer oncologist, who spends most of the time caring for patients and the rest focusing on research, new drugs and new ideas to help make things better for people with all stages of breast cancer.”

Emily-Rose and Mimi Wiitala

“I am thankful for all of the hard work Komen has done to assure I would not have to say goodbye to my best friend and mom, the way my mom did.”

Cheryl Lehner

“When your family thinks you are going to die, it does give you a closeness that you wouldn’t have otherwise.”

Lois Milare

“I was more to these people than I ever thought I was and that gave me more meaning to my own existence. I saw myself through their eyes.”

Paige Berty

“You’ll find strength in places you didn’t think you had.”

Tami Latham

Tami learned to look at things differently. She now notes the little things and pays attention to nature in a way she never did before.

Rena Montgomery

“Listen to your intuition. If something keeps telling you it’s not right, then get it checked out.”

Kristi Stone

“I live my life with zest, make the most of every day, love with all of my heart and hope, for a longer, quality life with my family, and someday, a cure for each type of breast cancer.”

Melanie Ewell

“If you doubt your doctors, it’s very easy to doubt yourself.”

Becky Ewer

Becky had such joy in her heart to be surrounded by positive energy and compassion. For the first-time ever, she took her scarf off and revealed her bald head. She was immediately greeted by hugs, high fives, and love.

Nancy Harrington

Nancy missed a total of 10 weeks due to her surgeries, but she never had to take one day without pay because everyone she worked with donated their time to her.

Janine Wolf

“Don’t panic!  Talk to people you know who have had breast cancer.  Seek out a good medical team and get more than one opinion about your diagnosis and best course treatment.”

Karen Jackson-Simmons

During her second week of radiation it became clear that Karen needed new tires, and she gives credit to Komen Oregon and sponsor Les Schwab Tire Centers who helped her buy new tires during her second week of radiation.

Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell

“We are one of the only groups looking at this cell layer. Markers that might indicate that this patient has the potential to go on and develop breast cancer.”

Kara Roybal

She created a blog about her breast cancer journey to keep friends and family aware of her appointments and results.

Joanne Steffey

“One aspect of breast cancer that does not come to mind at first is how to continue your job after you have beaten the disease.”

Alicia Duncan

“I always thought I was strong; I was the protector of my family. But I never knew how truly strong I was until I beat cancer.”

Joe and Ben Dessert

“Race for the Cure gave Nina so much energy.”

Michelle Caplan

When they can’t physically be at Portland Race for the Cure, it doesn’t stop Michelle and her teammates, #CaplanWins. They register, fundraise, and even walk on the beach the day of the Race!

Melissa and Carol Ives

“My mom never thought, ‘why me?’ instead she decided she would not give the disease any energy and remained positive throughout the process.”

Cherie Gabbert

“I am forever thankful to the many donors who support Komen Oregon and SW Washington. Without you, my story would be very different.”

Suzanne Hein

“Dogs do not see cancer. They are not judgmental. They do not care if you have hair or eyelashes, or if you are just sitting sipping soup.”

Jessica Sousa

“My daughter found a lump on my chest, so I went to the doctor to learn I had breast cancer.”

Mauricio Valadrian and Luz Rairan

“Do not let barriers of culture or language prevent you from being around for your family long term.”


Heather Krom

As a 26-year old graduate student, Heather never imagined that the lump she detected would be cancer. But it was.

Regina Macko

“My friends threw me a Ta-Ta to the Tatas Party! There isn’t any way that I could have gone through this without that kind of support.”

Kelvin Woods

Once he was diagnosed with breast cancer Kelvin reached out to Komen Oregon so he could be involved in the Race for the Cure and share with other survivors.

Nelly Rodriguez

“We are so quiet when talking about breast cancer in the Latino community. I try to bring up the conversation, so we can save more lives.”

Tamika Herbert

“Through all of this, it has made me stronger, more loving, less worried about daily/life issues, more forgiving, and most importantly renewed and restored my faith beyond measures!”

Sgt. Bret & Cheryl Barnum

“Mom, you can either beat it or you can let it beat you. And, I’m not going to let it beat you.”

Larry Bunch

Larry strongly urges other men to start their diligence. “If they happen to feel something, get it checked out. Don’t wait”



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