Karmanos Cancer Institute honors 12 inspirational individuals and organizations with its 2015 Heroes of Breast Cancer Award

Oct 29, 2015, 20:15 ET from Karmanos Cancer Institute

DETROIT, Oct. 29, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute continues its longtime tradition during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month recognizing 12 outstanding individuals and organizations at its 21st annual Heroes of Breast Cancer Awards event, held on Oct. 28 at the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center. Nearly 250 guests were in attendance to celebrate this year's honorees for their demonstrated leadership in raising awareness of breast cancer through education, the promotion of breast health, early detection and research breakthroughs, and inspirational stories of survivorship. Ann Delisi, radio and television personality and host of Ann Delisi's Essential Music on WDET 101.9 FM, served as emcee.

"We have made significant progress in the breast cancer fight but there is more work to be done," said Gerold Bepler, M.D., Ph.D. president and CEO, Karmanos Cancer Institute. "Our team at Karmanos works tirelessly to provide exceptional care to our patients, providing numerous therapies, clinical trials and advancements in cancer research to help discover new effective treatments. We also encourage women and men to be proactive about their health by talking with their physician about cancer screenings.

"We're privileged to shine light on those who support us in this fight and inspire us by their selfless contributions to improve the lives of those faced with breast cancer. It's with our sincerest gratitude that we congratulate our 2015 Heroes of Breast Cancer."

Katrina Studvent, director, Breast Cancer Special Programs at Karmanos Cancer Institute echoed Dr. Bepler's sentiments.

"We know those impacted by breast cancer are dealing with this disease every day of every month, so it's important that we take time to honor and celebrate those whose outstanding work is helping us make this disease more manageable for others," said Studvent.

"Everyone has the opportunity to make a difference for someone touched by breast cancer. This year's honorees demonstrate that in a variety of ways and teach us through their generosity what it means to be a hero. We invite others to help us in this fight to end breast cancer." 

For more information on cancer services or how you can help, call 1-800 KARMANOS (1-800-527-6266) or visit www.karmanos.org.   

Karmanos Cancer Institute's 2015 Heroes of Breast Cancer Honorees

The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute recognized the following 12 individuals and organizations at its 21st annual Heroes of Breast Cancer Awards event, held on Oct. 28. Karmanos has continued this annual tradition since 1995 during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month to honor those who continue to raise awareness of breast cancer through education, the promotion of breast health, early detection and research breakthroughs, as well as inspirational stories of survivorship.

For helping to bring about a society that encourages people to speak out about their illness, educate others about breast cancer and increase funding for breast cancer research.

  • Individual: Michelle Tubbs, of Grosse Pointe Woods

Michelle Tubbs was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, the same year she became involved with Young Survival Coalition (YSC), an organization dedicated to the critical issues unique to young women diagnosed with breast cancer. Tubbs helped start a local community volunteer group, and organized and hosted three In-Living Pinks fundraising events on behalf of YSC. She currently leads the Face 2 Face networking group, facilitating support groups where young women share their needs and challenges as young survivors. The Face 2 Face network includes nearly 200 young survivors from the metro Detroit area. In addition, Tubbs represents YSC at community events and health fairs and she shares her personal story in a variety of ways. Some examples include: being featured in a breast cancer survivor calendar that helped support a mammogram clinic to assist uninsured and under-insured women; takes part annually in a breast cancer charity fashion show called Festival of Tables; and leads a team of young survivors each year at the Susan G. Komen Detroit Race for the Cure®. Tubbs was re-diagnosed in November 2013 with extensive breast cancer metastases to the brain, liver, lung, bones, ovaries and eye, yet she continued to connect with and support others through social media, resulting in nearly 300 followers on Facebook. In spite of her own challenges, she gives countless hours to support other young breast cancer survivors.

"On behalf of the incredible individuals who have helped me complete this circle of support: YSC Detroit F2F Networking Group, I am truly honored to accept this Leadership Award. Without the commitment from the dedicated members of this sur-VIVOR support group, I would never have been able to plant the seed in creation of this sur-THRIVER support group. Thank you." – Michelle Tubbs

  • Organization: Leon & Lulu, located in Clawson

Whether someone is looking for an eclectic piece of furniture, an unforgettable gift or home accessory, or considering space to hold a fundraising event, there's no other retail space comparable to Leon & Lulu. Owner Mary Liz Curtin transformed a roller rink into a fun eye-catching atmosphere where everyone feels welcome. She is a gracious host for all Leon and Lulu's special events, including the Thanks for the Mammaries event that benefits the Karmanos Cancer Institute. Participants enjoy a night of shopping and socializing, with 10 percent of the sales supporting Karmanos' breast cancer research program. Over the past five years, the event has raised more than $15,000 for Karmanos. Leon & Lulu's creatively raises awareness of breast cancer and, in the process, engages the community to help raise funds for the cause. Accepting the award was Leon & Lulu Owner Mary Liz Curtin.  

"Our signature Karmanos event, Thanks for the Mammaries, is always one of the highlights of the fall season. The event is fun, our customers love it and the Karmanos staff is a delight to work with. All of us at Leon & Lulu thank you for this acknowledgement." – Mary Liz Curtin, owner, Leon & Lulu

Recognizing outstanding media work that communicates important messages about breast cancer.

  • Individual Award: Deena Centofanti, of Lake Orion, Anchor/Reporter, WJBK FOX 2

Deena Centofanti, anchor/reporter at WJBK FOX 2, along with the entire team at FOX 2, has been a longtime supporter of the Karmanos Cancer Institute and the Susan G. Komen Detroit Race for the Cure®. As a trusted and well-respected on-air personality, she is able to communicate key messages about cancer and other health-related issues that resonate with FOX 2 viewers. Through creative public service announcements, news and feature stories, live on-site coverage and Ask the Doctor segments, Centofanti highlights breast cancer survivors, current news about breast cancer including research breakthroughs and advancements, engaging Karmanos Cancer Institute experts, breast cancer survivors and Komen Detroit Race participants in the process. She not only educates and inspires viewers, she engages them in a call to action, whether that be giving them the tools necessary to be informed and proactive about health issues or encouraging them to be involved in a particular cause. She connects with the audience and gets results that help make our community healthier. Her passion, sincerity and commitment to provide accurate breast health information and share compelling stories honoring or remembering breast cancer survivors helps improve lives for the better.   

"I say thank you to the countless individuals and families who have bravely shared their most personal stories of survival and loss with me, and in doing so, they shed light on breast cancer and strengthen the fight." – Deena Centofanti

  • Organization: FOX Sports Detroit, Southfield 

Anyone familiar with Detroit knows we have passionate sports fans. When you want to communicate important messages to this audience, FOX Sports Detroit is the team to have on your side. FOX Sports Detroit, the local affiliate of FOX Sports Networks, has provided outstanding promotion for Pink Out the Park, a special partnership of the Detroit Tigers and Karmanos Cancer Institute to raise awareness of breast health. For the past four years, FOX Sports Detroit has produced public service announcements with their on-air talent and representatives from the Detroit Tigers. Their compelling interviews and social media posts leading up to Pink Out the Park, as well as live coverage from the event at Comerica Park, has engaged the public and increased their awareness of breast health, breast cancer prevention and early detection, metastatic disease, male breast cancer and research advancements. For the past two years, FOX Sports Detroit also created special pink Cheer Cards, donating all of the printing, so that Detroit Tigers fans participating in Pink Out the Park could write the name of a loved one on the card, honoring a breast cancer survivor or remembering someone lost to this disease. At the end of the fifth inning, the moving tribute showcases more than 30,000 fans, wearing pink, raising their Cheer Cards in unison to support all those touched by breast cancer. FOX Sports Detroit captures the powerful footage so that their viewers at home can witness the fans support for this cause. They also created the artwork for a Pink Out the Park survivor dog tag which was produced as a point-of sale item raising funds for breast cancer research at Karmanos. Accepting the award on behalf FOX Sports Detroit was Courtney Welch, manager, Social Media and Communications.

"Pink Out the Park is one of the most meaningful initiatives that FOX Sports Detroit is involved with every year. I am incredibly proud of the passion and care that our staff puts into this special telecast. Each of us has been touched by breast cancer in some way and it feels good, as individuals and as an organization, to help and celebrate this brave and resilient community." – Greg Hammaren, senior vice president/ General Manager, FOX Sports Detroit

For dedicating resources and talents to benefit the cause of breast cancer.

  • Ford Warriors in Pink, Dearborn 

Ford Motor Company, one of the first corporate supporters of the breast cancer cause, continues its commitment to the cause through its Warriors in Pink (WIP) campaign. Now in its 21st year, Ford's commitment has dedicated more than $128 million to date to the breast cancer cause. WIP was created to raise awareness about breast cancer and inspire women to be proactive about their health.

The campaign supports fundraising for research and education through the sale of the WIP collection of apparel and accessories honoring survivors. One hundred percent of the net proceeds of WIP merchandise help fund four breast cancer charity partners. Through The Good Day Project, Ford WIP enhances the company's commitment to this cause, empowering people to take action to help bring more good days to those living with breast cancer. Recently, Ford reached out to Karmanos to host an event to bring more good days to breast cancer patients. With the support of WIP, Karmanos hosted The Good Day Project where cancer patients received uplifting messages of hope as well as WIP gifts. Thanks to Ford's WIP The Good Day Project, some special tangible items were given to make life a little easier for breast cancer patients in critical need. The items provided included a dishwasher, a furnace, some college dorm accessories and a gift card to Home Depot for in-home repairs. In addition, Ford has partnered with ride-hailing app Lyft to provide Karmanos patients ride-assist vouchers as part of The Good Day Project. Accepting the award on behalf of Ford's Warriors in Pink was Tracy Magee, manager, Primary Brand Experiential Marketing.

"Ford Warriors in Pink is deeply honored to receive the Heroes of Breast Cancer Philanthropy Award for the More Good Days campaign.  We are very proud of our partnership with Karmanos and Ford's 21 year commitment to the fight against breast cancer.  Each year we look for more ways to help fuel the spirit of those battling this disease and this year partnering with Karmanos to give good days to deserving patients had a tremendous impact on everyone involved." – Tracy Magee, Primary Brand Experiential Marketing Manager, Warriors in Pink

For assisting in efforts to reach the community with the importance of breast cancer early detection, cancer care, and/or survivorship at large in a volunteer capacity.

  • Individual: Kyle Huber, of Troy

Kyle Huber exemplifies the true essence of Ford's tagline "Go Further." As a proud, well-respected Ford Motor Company employee, who also serves as the team captain for Ford's 2,000-member Susan G. Komen Detroit Race for the Cure® team, Huber has recruited 100 Ford volunteers who do various fundraising activities, such as scrapbook events, jeans days, bake sales, chili cook-offs, auctions and giveaways, homemade craft sales and more to raise money for breast cancer programs. This year alone, $63,000 was raised to support the Komen Detroit Race, benefiting local breast cancer programs and national research. She also supports Warriors in Pink Day at Ford World Headquarters and serves on the volunteer Komen Detroit Planning Committee. Never flinching at the task, whatever is needed, Huber delivers. Not only does she give her time, she is so committed to the cause that she recently donated her breast tissue at a healthy tissue bank collection event held in her home state of Indiana. She not only engages Ford employees to participate in the breast cancer cause, she recruits her husband and children to volunteer too, making her commitment a family affair. 

"I am honored to be recognized. I am grateful I have met many smart, wonderful and generous people who truly make an impact on our community. Nothing is accomplished through the efforts of one person. Survivors and volunteers, who give their time and energy to someday end breast cancer, are my heroes."  – Kyle Huber

  • Organization: Detroit International Academy for Young Women, of Detroit

As the only all-girls public K-12 school in metro Detroit, the Detroit International Academy for Young Women (DIA) not only works to help its students excel in academics, it encourages leadership development and equips each young woman with skills needed to be a positive, competitive, articulate, and competent leader in school, community and in our ever-changing global society. For the past seven years, the DIA has hosted its annual Hat Strut for Breast Cancer event. The objective of this event is to create an educational forum where students learn about breast cancer awareness, a disease that has personally touched the lives of DIA students and staff. The event emphasizes the need for community awareness and a better understanding of screening options and, at the same time, it allows students and community leaders to strut their stuff wearing fancy hats with pride. Accepting the award on behalf of DIA was Principal Beverly Hibbler.

"On behalf of the students, staff, and parents of Detroit International Academy for Young Women, it is an honor to receive Karmanos' Heroes of Breast Cancer Community Service Award. Our seventh annual "Hat Strut for Breast Cancer Awareness" took place on October 21, 2015 with the purpose of creating an educational forum for our students to learn about breast cancer awareness. Our students raised funds that were donated to Karmanos. They also informed their mothers and other women to get a mammogram each year. Our annual event has saved the lives of several women who may not have gotten a mammogram had it not been for the encouragement of our students."Beverly Hibbler, principal, Detroit International Academy for Young Women

A health care professional whose treatment of breast cancer patients has been marked by exceptional technical skill, combined with sensitivity and compassion.

  • Maria Gird, R.N., BSN, Karmanos Cancer Center; resides in Sterling Heights         

Maria Gird, R.N., is an oncology nurse at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Center. She is the essence of what a compassionate caregiver embodies. Gird and her co-workers are an important part of patient care at Karmanos, supporting each patient at the most vulnerable stage in their cancer journey. A true caregiver, Gird is the kind of person that anyone would want by their side; or supporting a loved one during cancer treatment. Karmanos takes a multidisciplinary approach to patient care, involving each area of the medical team. Gird extends herself to her patients with compassion and sensitivity while they are in her care at Karmanos and even after they leave to go home. She understands that a cancer diagnosis can be frightening, so she continues to be a constant pillar of hope every step of their journey, paying special attention to her patients' individual needs. Gird has earned the respect and admiration of her co-workers, and deepest gratitude from her patients. 

"I'm so honored to have been chosen to receive this award. I am so lucky to work in the breast clinic with the breast cancer patients. They are amazingly strong and positive during their entire journey. They make being compassionate easy for all of us. I share this award with the entire breast clinic team."Maria Gird, R.N., BSN

Honoring an individual whose battle with breast cancer has been an inspiration to family, friends and community.

Geri Lester was one of the leaders of the Komen Detroit Race for the Cure® since its 1992 inception, and was integral to the development of Karmanos' Heroes of Breast Cancer Program. Lester dedicated herself to bringing supportive and educational services to the metropolitan Detroit cancer community. She was a founding member of Gilda's Club of Metro Detroit. A 2002 Heroes of Breast Cancer Courage awardee, Lester always saw the good in others, the gifts of everyday living and the hope in every situation. Lester lost her 20-year battle to breast cancer in May 2003, but her brave and cheerful attitude in the face of her disease remains an inspiration to us all. Presenting this year's Geri Lester Courage awards was Geri's daughter, Stefany Lester Freeman.

  • In Memory: Kathryn Cramer, M.D., formerly of Monroe

Kathryn Cramer, M.D., knew from the time she was a young girl that she wanted to be a physician and an educator. She worked hard to achieve her goal, becoming a successful orthopaedic surgeon who was an inspirational force in what was then a male-dominated field. Dr. Cramer was diagnosed with breast cancer in the late 1990's but that did not stop her from doing everything she could to help her patients. At the time, she was one of only two female orthopaedic surgeons in the country specialized in both pediatrics and trauma. She lost her battle with breast cancer in 2005 at the age of 44, yet she continues to leave her indelible mark to help improve the lives of others through a charitable remainder trust that resulted in a gift of more than $1.4 million to establish the Kathryn E. Cramer, M.D., Endowed Chair for Cancer Research at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in honor of her oncologist, Philip Philip, M.D., Ph.D., F.R.C.P. Dr. Cramer was a gifted orthopaedic surgeon who was sought by health institutions across the country, yet she chose to return to Detroit to help her family care for loved ones and deal with the passing of both parents within a short period of time. She spent the rest of her career in Detroit. She was passionate about serving her patients and being there for her loved ones. Dr. Cramer accomplished so much in her short life. Through her generosity, she will continue to advance cancer research that will benefit others for years to come. Accepting the award was Ann Cramer, the sister of Dr. Cramer.

"We are grateful for the recognition of Kathy's contributions to both the medical community and Karmanos in the effort to find a cure for breast cancer. Kathy spent her entire life helping others, so it is fitting that she continues to positively impact others long after she has left us. Her legacy remains not only in the gifts that she wanted to share, but in the way she lived the short time God gave her. She always worked hard, always played hard, always fought, always loved, and never gave up. We hope that this gift will allow the Karmanos scientists to find answers to the riddle that cancer poses, and help prevent a future loss from being suffered in another family." – Ann Cramer, sister of Dr. Kathryn Cramer

  • In Honor: Kathy Mulheron, R.N., of Grosse Pointe Park

Kathy Mulheron, R.N., has experienced both sides of cancer: that of a committed nurse caregiver; and that of a breast cancer patient. She served 40 years at the Detroit Medical Center, the last 17 as a recovery room nurse in outpatient surgery. Mulheron was incredibly dedicated and loved what she did, never missing a day of work. She was always there for her patients – a voice of encouragement and hope to those in her care. Never did she think that she would one day be the patient, battling breast cancer. A recent recipient of Ford Motor Company's Warriors in Pink's The Good Day Project, Mulheron was overwhelmed with joy to receive some well-needed items as part of this wonderful project. She always remained a beacon of hope for patients, both before and during her cancer journey, even while undergoing cancer treatment. Although Mulheron hated to give up her job due to her illness, she quickly realized that she could still be an inspiring uplifting force just by being the beautiful person she is. Mulheron is a true forever fighter who continues to inspire.

"I was overwhelmed when I was told I was the recipient of Karmanos' Heroes of Breast Cancer Courage Award. They have given me continued support through my fight against breast cancer helping me in every stage of this journey and I am extremely grateful." – Kathy Mulheron, R.N.

For demonstrated leadership in breast cancer research.

Dr. Michael J. Brennan served as President of the Michigan Cancer Foundation, the forerunner of the Karmanos Cancer Institute. Dr. Brennan died on Sept. 22, 2010 at the age of 89. He was a nationally-renowned oncologist when he took the helm of Michigan Cancer Foundation in 1966, serving as its president until 1991. Under his leadership, MCF became the country's 20th comprehensive cancer center in 1978, a distinction maintained to this day. Dr. Brennan was a pioneer in cancer research, a mentor and inspiration, who helped put Karmanos on the map as a leader in compassionate and comprehensive cancer care.

  • Michele Cote, Ph.D., of Farmington Hills,
    Associate Professor, Karmanos Cancer Institute and Wayne state University, Department of Populations Studies and Disparities Research                          

Karmanos Cancer Institute recognizes Michele Cote, Ph.D., for her exceptional achievement in breast cancer research focused on closing the gap on cancer disparities, especially within underserved populations. Dr. Cote's lab focuses on issues surrounding health disparities. Her research interests include cancer epidemiology, molecular epidemiology of lung cancer and disparities in endometrial cancer survival. She believes that focusing on underserved and understudied populations is the only way to achieve optimal health for all. Dr. Cote is the recipient of two research grants from Susan G. Komen Award and Research Grant Program, which supports scientists and groundbreaking breast cancer research around the world. In 2012, she received a grant for more than $888,000 to study benign breast disease and the risk of breast cancer in African American women. Dr. Cote, in collaboration with Dr. Rouba Ali-Fehmi, also of Karmanos and Wayne State University, worked to identify pathologic factors early on in benign breast biopsies that would lead to a better understanding of the disease process and the development of effective methods to prevent and treat breast cancer. In 2014, Dr. Cote received a second Komen grant for more than $404,000 to provide multidisciplinary training in the biology of breast cancer disparities. In addition, just recently, she donated healthy breast tissue and blood at a collection event held at Indiana University Komen Tissue Bank to further breast cancer research. Dr. Cote is working on hosting a similar healthy tissue collection at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in fall 2016.

She believes the Detroit community can greatly contribute and benefit from furthering science when it comes to African Americans disproportionately being affected by breast cancer. She is a dedicated scientist who is truly making a difference in closing the gap on cancer disparities.

"I am so honored to be selected as a Hero of Breast Cancer, and truly feel my work has just begun. There are still many interesting, important questions to be examined, particularly with respect to breast cancer disparities. My collaborators at Karmanos Cancer Institute have been incredible partners as we try to disentangle the complex reasons disparities exist, and I look forward to many more productive years working with the outstanding researchers, advocates, and patients at Karmanos." – Michele Cote, Ph.D.

For unprecedented commitment, compassion and demonstrated leadership that engages, supports and inspires others in the fight to end breast cancer.

Maureen (Mo) Keenan Meldrum served as the Race Chair for the Susan G. Komen Detroit Race for the Cure, locally presented by the Karmanos Cancer Institute, since 2001. Keenan Meldrum herself is a breast cancer survivor and has been since 1992, the year the Race began in Detroit. Under her guidance, the Komen Detroit Race has become a day of extreme importance in the City of Detroit and State of Michigan. Her determination, persistence and persuasiveness grew Race participation and revenue significantly during her tenure of 13 years; exceeding $1M for 10 consecutive years and increased total Race revenue by over $21M. Keenan Meldrum's demonstrated commitment to serve those in need of cancer services, her ability to unite a community to significantly impact lives for the better, and her compassion to listen and help those touched by this disease, continues to inspire and bring hope to countless others.

  • Bob Binson, Mayor of Center Line, Mich.

Bob Binson is a man of hope and a man of action. Karmanos Cancer Institute is extremely grateful for his service in the fight against breast cancer, as well as all cancers, dating back more than 20 years. He and his family are also wonderful supporters of the Susan G. Komen Detroit Race for the Cure®. Regardless of being a self-proclaimed "behind the scenes guy," Binson is always a leader, even in his role as a volunteer. Whatever is asked of Binson, he replies, "Sure thing, we'll figure it out." Backed by his family's company, Binson's Home Health Care, he has access to many resources, yet he continues to roll up his sleeves and open his heart, bringing hope to every project and every person he is connected with. Countless frightened people impacted by cancer have turned to Binson. He does what he can to make life a little better for each person. Numerous tasks have seemed overwhelming until Binson gets involved and things just come together. When Binson is asked to help, he not only says "yes," he recruits others to volunteer with him. He puts his heart and soul into everything, whether it's supporting Karmanos, the Komen Detroit Race, his church or children's school, the Muscular Dystrophy Association or the City of Center Line, where he currently serves as mayor. Binson transforms lives with his giving heart and special contributions – bringing hope to others in time of need.

"What a joy and honor it is to receive an award named after my greatest hero in the fight against breast cancer. Her caring and perseverance have inspired me and so many others to take up arms in the war against this horrible disease. Thank you Mo for all you do for so many and thank you to Karmanos Cancer Institute for honoring me with the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute's 2015 Heroes of Breast Cancer Maureen Keenan Meldrum Hope Award." – Bob Binson, Mayor of Center Line

About the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute
Located in mid-town Detroit, Michigan, the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, a subsidiary of McLaren Health Care, is one of 45 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. Karmanos is among the nation's best cancer centers. Through the commitment of 1,000 staff, including nearly 300 physicians and researchers on faculty at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, and supported by thousands of volunteer and financial donors, Karmanos strives to prevent, detect and eradicate all forms of cancer. Its long-term partnership with the WSU School of Medicine enhances the collaboration of critical research and academics related to cancer care. Gerold Bepler, M.D., Ph.D., is the Institute's president and chief executive officer. For more information call 1-800-KARMANOS or go to www.karmanos.org.

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SOURCE Karmanos Cancer Institute