By: Cheryl Jernigan
Blog by Cheryl Jernigan, a Komen Scientific Advisory Board and Advocates in Science Steering Committee Member
Sunday May 17, we received heart-breaking news. Our long-standing friend and colleague, Chris Tannous, passed away. Although a two-time breast cancer survivor, it was not breast cancer that took Chris’ life, but pulmonary fibrosis.
Chris was simply the Jackie-of-all-advocacy-trades. There wasn’t an avenue, if even only slightly open, she didn’t explore in her quest to put an end to breast cancer. Not only was she a Komen advocate phenomenon, she diligently pursued her quest across many organizations, including the American Cancer Society (ACS), Y-ME and the National Breast Cancer Coalition.
Chris’ legacy in Komen is wide and deep. Her wisdom, guidance and thoughtful work were evident at the Affiliate level, and in our global and research programs. She was passionate about including the patient voice in breast cancer research, pioneering patient-focused efforts on ourScientific Advisory Board (SAB) and helping found Komen’s Advocates in Science (AIS).
From the beginning, she skillfully exercised her advocacy and leadership skills, serving as a role model for many and leaving no stone unturned. She was a volunteer and leader locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. She rolled up her sleeves and did whatever it took to get the job done!
Chris was intimately involved with Komen Orange County as a volunteer, board member, President and other leadership roles. The too-numerous-to-mention awards bestowed upon her over the years pay tribute to the substantial and inspiring impact she had within her Affiliate and her community.
Chris Tannous with a delegation from the Breast Cancer Network Japan – Akebono-kai at the 2010 ASCO Annual Meeting.
On the global front, Chris was one of our U.S. delegates to the 2007 Global Breast Cancer Initiative and Global Breast Cancer Advocacy Summit in Budapest, Hungary. In 2010, she participated in a roundtable discussion convened at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Annual Meeting to share best practices in patient services, outreach and education with the Breast Cancer Network Japan – Akebono-kai.
She was also an advocate and co-author on a study that demonstrated a substantial difference in breast cancer risk factors and Gail scores (a commonly used tool to assess a person’s breast cancer risk) between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites, and suggested different screening and prevention strategies to more effectively reduce or manage risk within each of these populations.
Far from seeking the limelight, Chris just humbly and diligently pursued her passion to make a difference for breast cancer patients today…and tomorrow. Working with her was an absolute delight. Memories of her bright smile and unpretentious, dry sense of humor still bring a warm smile to many hearts.
Her gift to quietly listen and understand others’ perspectives, unwittingly endeared most to her. When she did speak, you knew her comments would be well reasoned and to the point.
Although physically gone, Chris, you will never leave our hearts and minds. Your dedicated work and caring friendship remain an inspiration to many. And your legacy as a dedicated, collaboratively assertive pioneer in breast cancer research advocacy has laid a solid foundation for research and patient advocates to build upon in our work with researchers and clinicians to improve how patients feel, function and survive.
Thank you, Chris! You have been a wonderful blessing to our world.
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