COVID pandemic lessons help Susan G. Komen foundation refocus fight against breast cancer

Denise Dador Image
Friday, September 23, 2022
Pandemic lessons help foundation refocus fight against breast cancer
After three years of staying apart due to the pandemic, thousands of patients and survivors across Southern California are uniting with a new focus.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw the suffering health disparities caused in marginalized communities. The same is true in breast cancer.

Now after three years of staying apart, thousands of patients and survivors across Southern California are uniting with a new focus.

For the first time since 2019, the Susan G. Komen walks will be back in person. It's been a lonely period for two- time breast cancer survivor Angelique Fong who deeply missed the camaraderie.

"Breast cancer didn't pause just because there was a pandemic going on," she said.

Just as the world was learning of COVID-19, the Mission Viejo resident made a devastating discovery.

The Food and Drug Administration is alerting the public about certain cancers - including squamous cell carcinoma and various lymphomas - that have been reported in the scar tissue that forms around breast implants.

"I found a lump this time on the same side," said Fong.

The same side as her first bout with breast cancer in 2013. She started mammograms in her 30s because her mother also had breast cancer. Proactive care saved her life.

"I'm sitting here today probably because of the fact that mine was caught early both times. Everybody should have that right. That's not the environment we're living in," she said.

Susan G. Komen Regional Vice President Megan Klink says the same glaring health disparities exposed in the pandemic also plague breast cancer patients.

"In the United States breast cancer is the most common form of breast cancer among Latinx. And black women are 40% more likely to die from breast cancer than their white counterparts," she said.

Klink said Susan G. Komen is stepping up its efforts to provide financial assistance and connect women with treatment and support. And Komen is addressing health inequity by providing grants to breast cancer researchers to help them recruit more trainees from communities of color.

"We are always pushing ourselves to make sure that we have that diversity that inclusion and like not just not just saying the words but really doing it," Klink said.

"I feel very strongly that everyone should have equitable access to breast health screening," Fong said.

Her wish for this Sunday's "More than Pink Walk" in Orange County is for early detection to be everyone's right.

"Everyone should be able to tell their survival story and be able to walk in honor of themselves. And celebrate," Fong said.