By: Julie Guevara
Guest post by Julie Guevara, Marketing & Communications Manager, Komen Orange County.
Susan G. Komen Orange County recently embarked on an exciting partnership with MemorialCare Medical Group and the Susan G. Komen Tissue Bank at the Indiana University Simon Cancer Center. The Komen Tissue Bank (KTB) is the only repository in the world for normal breast tissue and matched serum, plasma and DNA. To more deeply understand the evolution of breast cancer, it is necessary to compare abnormal, cancerous tissue against normal, healthy tissue. By studying normal tissue, research for the causes and prevention of the disease may be accelerated.
While the Komen Tissue Bank is not in their service area, Komen Orange County organized the event with the goal of helping to diversify the pool of specimens. On Saturday, November 2, the Komen Tissue Bank collected healthy breast tissue samples from 201 Orange County women of Asian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Tongan, Hispanic, African-American and Caucasian descent. Two Komen Orange County staff members and four Affiliate board members were also among those who donated healthy breast tissue at the event. This was the first time a collection event has been held on the West Coast.
The idea for the collection came after three Orange County women, Charlene Kazner, a Hawaiian Islander living in Garden Grove; Angela Acevedo-Malouf, a Latina living in Mission Viejo; and Jang Pang, of Chinese and Japanese descent of Huntington Beach, flew to Indianapolis so researchers could extract and store samples of their healthy breast tissue for the Komen Tissue Bank. Then they brought their experience and their passion for inclusion of diverse populations in breast cancer research back to Orange County.
“I did it because I want my people to be part of research to end breast cancer. And I wanted to be able to tell other Pacific Islander women in Orange County to be part of this too,” said Kazner.
Komen Orange County received a $45,000 grant from the Allergan Foundation to support the nine-month planning process of educating diverse communities on the benefit of participating in medical research, the meaning of “informed consent” and outreach to work with community partners to engage the donors from Orange County’s many ethnic populations.
MemorialCare Medical Group in Irvine, California provided the medical suite, including 21 exam rooms and a variety of volunteer medical personnel. In addition to the more than 200 tissue donors, another 200 volunteers helped make the collection possible. Everyone, including surgeons, surgeon assistants, phlebotomists, lab workers, specimen runners and donor guides, all volunteered their time, because they believe in Komen’s mission to energize science to find the cures for breast cancer.
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