Diamonds Direct Raises $100,000 for Komen Austin at Big PINK Give Event

Diamond Direct’s Custom-Designed Breast Cancer Pendants Raise the Stakes in Silent Auction, Greatly Increasing Funds Raised for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research

Diamonds Direct, one of America’s largest and most successful jewelry companies, Tuesday announced it raised $100,000 for the Susan G. Komen Big PINK Give event held April 6 at Hotel Granduca in Austin. The event raised more than $300,000.

“This is the fourth year we have been honored to sponsor this inspiring breast cancer awareness and fundraising event,” said Diamonds Direct Vice President Anat Adi-Atias. “We have all been touched by cancer in some way, and it is deeply rewarding to have an opportunity to contribute to the vital work Komen Austin is doing to make a lasting impact on the Austin breast cancer community.”

About 200 guests attended the Big PINK Give, a sold-out gala that began with a champagne reception under the stars, followed by dinner and a program featuring inspiring remarks by individuals directly impacted by breast cancer. The evening culminated with an opportunity to give by participating in a live auction.

Diamonds Direct has been a sponsor of the event for the past four years and this is the second year for them to create two custom-designed breast cancer ribbon pendants encrusted with diamonds and pink sapphires, each weighing more than 2.5 total carats, to be auctioned to the highest bidder. In concept, the winner would receive both pendants, keep one and give the other to a survivor at Komen’s “Race for the Cure” event in September. Last year, following the same concept, Diamonds Direct raised $30,000 for Komen, and the winner gave them both to survivors at the September race.

At this year’s Big PINK Give, the contest for the pendants reached a fever pitch, with two bidders each offering $50,000. Encouraged and cajoled by the inimitable Cowboys Auctioneer, Health Hale, they each decided to purchase one pendant for $50,000, doubling the amount of funds raised to $100,000. Both bidders generously decided to forego taking a pendant home and will donate them both to survivors at this year’s “Race for the Cure.”

“This incredible event was made possible by our partners, and Diamonds Direct stepped up once again, creating two breathtaking pieces that brought an astounding $100,000 to our cause,” said Suzanne Stone, executive director of the Susan G. Komen Foundation. “We are so grateful to our guests and our generous bidders, as well as to event chairs Amber Gonzales and Jennifer Elliott. We also want to thank Heath Hale of Heath Hale Auctioneers in Lakeway for the masterful way in which he handled the auction, greatly increasing the funds we raised that evening.”

About Diamonds Direct

Diamonds Direct is one of America’s largest and most successful jewelry companies with 15 locations in the U.S. Each location offers loose and mounted diamonds, a multitude of engagement ring mountings by America’s top designers, diamond and gemstone fashion jewelry, wedding bands, pearls and much more. The company backs its products with industry-leading guarantees and warranties, including their unprecedented 110% lifetime upgrade. Diamonds Direct is a socially responsible company that thinks globally and acts locally. The company ensures all diamonds are ethically sourced via the Kimberly Process and is responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars raised for local philanthropies and cultural organizations that are critical to the communities Diamonds Direct calls home. For more information, visit https://www.DiamondsDirect.com.

About Komen Austin

Susan G. Komen® Austin is an Austin-based nonprofit committed to saving lives locally and fighting breast cancer globally. Komen Austin is the only local breast cancer organization attacking the disease on all fronts – education, screening, treatment, follow-up care, survivorship support, advocacy and research. The organization serves the women and men in the city’s five-county area battling breast cancer by removing barriers to care for the uninsured and underinsured. Of the funds raised annually, Komen Austin invests 75 percent in local community health grants and educational initiatives, and 25 percent in global research studies to find cures for breast cancer. Since 1999, Komen Austin has invested more than $11.7 million in breast health services and educational efforts in Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties. Additionally, it has given more than $5.4 million to fund global research studies to find cures for breast cancer. Komen Austin encourages the local community to help save lives and end breast cancer forever by participating in year-round fundraising efforts and our signature events – the Susan G. Komen® Austin Race for the Cure and the Big PINK Give. For more information, visit https://KomenAustin.org.

4 Ways to Take Back Control From Breast Cancer

Photography courtesy of Brian Cordwell for Wanderlust Festival.

It is no secret that dealing with breast cancer is hard. It can turn lives upside down, inspiring concerns on topics as wide-ranging as maintaining daily routines, paying for treatment and life expectancy. Underlying it all is its emotional toll. According to a survey by Ford Warriors in Pink, 44 percent of breast cancer patients report needing help maintaining a positive outlook, while 43 percent report needing help maintaining their self-confidence. As supporters, we want to alleviate the burdens on our loved ones, yet only 28 percent of Americans say they know how to best support a patient during and after treatment.

Although the emotional journey of cancer is complex and there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there are ways you can help those experiencing it feel more in control of their situation. Encourage your loved ones to engage in activities that nourish their spirit and support them in pursuing avenues for self-care to help them maintain a positive outlook on life.

Expand your world. Many patients feel as though breast cancer takes hold of their life as its own. Remind your loved one that cancer is not the center of their world by encouraging them to pursue their passions. “Amidst chemo and radiation, you’re constantly finishing battles. But when life is constantly pushing you down, you need more wins. So I decided to hike through the rainforest in Colombia immediately post radiation,” says breast cancer survivor Lara Mehanna. Participating in new experiences — even those in your own hometown — can allow those who have been touched by breast cancer to refocus on their spirit. Treat your loved one to an experience that aligns with their interests, like a local pottery or cooking class, to provide a much-needed outlet as they continue their fight.

Create peace of mind. Mindful meditation is one method of self-care that helps lower anxiety and stress. As part of her “integrated care” treatment plan, breast cancer survivor Ana Mostaccero practiced meditation and visualization exercises prior to surgery. “Doing these exercises helped me to not only reduce stress, but to begin practicing an all-around mindful life with heightened perspective and appreciation for what my mind and body were experiencing.” Help your loved one tap into their own inner peace by making meditation easily accessible to them. Popular personal meditation app Headspace offers meditations specific to every phase of the cancer journey.

Channel your chi. Breast cancer often brings feelings of being betrayed by your body. “It took a long time to learn to trust my body again,” says survivor Amber Tumbow. “For so long it felt like my own body turned against me in a constant state of battle. I began practicing yoga, and slowly but surely I was able to feel more in control.” Because yoga is a gentle exercise with a variety of modifications, it can be a manageable exercise for patients at different stages of their journey. Start a regular yoga practice with your loved one to encourage regular activity, keep them motivated, and help them reconnect with their bodies. Look for programs like the Wanderlust 21-Day Challenge that can be done at home and are designed especially with breast cancer patients in mind.

Empower with community. Cancer can feel alienating. While patients undoubtedly appreciate the support of family and friends, they can also feel like no one understands what they are going through. Connecting with others who have also experienced cancer can help patients feel less alone. “The greatest blessing was support from fellow survivors, the Models of Courage community,” shares survivor Jessica Ayers. “Being diagnosed so young, I felt alone. Hearing the stories of those who had gone through the same thing as me, and seeing their strength as they offered support, advice and love completely changed my outlook on my disease. It turned me into a warrior.”

No matter what you choose to do, it’s important to let your loved ones know that you are there to support them, on days good and bad. By doing so, you can provide vital support for making your loved one’s journey just a little bit easier. For free patient support resources such as Headspace meditations and the Wanderlust 21-day yoga challenge visit www.fordcares.com. (BPT)

Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients Tell Their Stories Through Art and Photography

This post is brought to you by Eisai Inc.

Breast Cancer

When most people think of breast cancer, they think of the pink movement, and often times, “beating” the cancer. A diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer (MBC), a late stage of the disease in which the cancer has spread beyond the breast, is different. There is no cure and, until recently, the number of people living with MBC in the United States was basically unknown. A new study from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimates more than 150,000 people are living with metastatic breast cancer.

Although the MBC population is larger than ever before, an estimated 17 percent increase from 2000 to 2010, the implication is positive as it means people are living longer in spite of their diagnosis and sheds light on the increased need for more services and research focused on MBC.

The NCI study brings attention to a growing community of people with MBC whose meaningful lives and stories are largely unheard. To give voice to those living with MBC and bring to life the reality of living with MBC, #ThisIsMBC Serenity Project was created by METAvivor, an organization dedicated to funding research focused on the metastatic breast cancer, in partnership with Eisai Inc. #ThisIsMBC Serenity Project uses art to empower people with MBC to share their experiences, educate others about this disease and encourage donations for more MBC research.

“The metastatic community really wants to be involved in research. The more people we can educate about metastatic disease, the more money we can raise for research that will ultimately help us to live longer and better-quality lives,” said Leslie Falduto, who lives with metastatic breast cancer and participated in the project. “Participating in #ThisIsMBC Serenity Project was a very powerful moment for me. I felt confident. I felt like art. I felt good about what I was doing for my community and I felt good about myself.”

The 16 people living with MBC chosen to participate in #ThisIsMBC Serenity Project tell their stories through the powerful and artful combination of body painting and underwater photography. Created by Ren and Keith Dixon, a married couple who have both lost loved ones to metastatic breast cancer, the storytelling begins in an interview with Ren Dixon, the body painting artist. After discussing their MBC experience, Ren visually represents each person’s experiences through the use of vivid color and symbols painted directly on their body. Next, Keith Dixon captures the mood and emotion of the patient’s personal journey through underwater photography.

“It is important for women and men to see that you can live a life, a fruitful and loving life, with metastatic breast cancer,” said project participant Sheila McGlown. “I think #ThisIsMBC Serenity Project brought out the boldness in me. It allowed me to express myself and my life experiences in a way I never thought I would be able to and it made me proud — proud of being a voice for young women, proud of being a voice for African-American women, proud of being a voice for veterans and proud of being a voice for the breast cancer community.”

From July 2017 to October 2018, one patient a month will be showcased, through images and video from the photoshoot, on MBCinfocenter.com and METAvivor’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts (@metavivor). The images will also be featured at an art gallery reception in New York City and made into a calendar. These calendars are available for free with a donation to METAvivor, which can be made at www.metavivor.org/store/. Donations will go to METAvivor to support research specifically for metastatic breast cancer.

A fundamental component of #ThisIsMBC Serenity Project is the belief that women and men with MBC should live their lives as fully as possible and take advantage of all resources available to them. Many educational resources and helpful information about metastatic breast cancer exists at MBCinfocenter.com. To support METAvivor’s ongoing commitment to funding MBC research, which could help those living with this disease, consider making a contribution at https://secure.metavivor.org/page/contribute/thisismbc. (BPT)

Pink! Exceeds Goal Raising Nearly $400,000 for Komen Austin

On Friday, April 24, a sea of pink could be seen moving throughout Austin, Texas.

Photography courtesy of John Gutierrez Photography

Over 400 guests gathered at the Hyatt Regency’s elegant Zilker Ballroom to show their support for the cause. Pink!, Susan G. Komen Austin’s 4th annual benefit gala, raised nearly $400,000. Pink! has become Komen Austin’s second largest fundraising initiative, second to its Race for the Cure. Since 2012, over $1.1 million has been raised through Pink! to fund breast health services locally and research studies globally.

Dr. Michelle Ashworth & Kes Ashworth

Dr. Michelle Ashworth & Kes Ashworth

Venus and Bill Strawn

Venus and Bill Strawn

Angela Quitmeyer, Dawn Crouch, Ilona Toole

Angela Quitmeyer, Dawn Crouch, Ilona Toole

“What we do every day is very real,” said Karen Shultz, Interim Executive Director at Komen Austin. “It’s about how breast cancer affects people and their family’s lives. Our impact and investment is huge. We know our mission is making a difference in the greater Austin area. No woman or man should go without breast health care or die from breast cancer.”

Mayor Steve Adler & Terri Gruca

Mayor Steve Adler & Terri Gruca

Mayor Adler, Dr. Kelly Martinez, Deborah Davis Groves, Randy Groves, Terri Gruca, LaTanya Logan, Perreda Manor, John Mathieson, Amy Mosier, Karen Shultz, Jennifer Stevens

Mayor Adler, Dr. Kelly Martinez, Deborah Davis Groves, Randy Groves, Terri Gruca, LaTanya Logan, Perreda Manor, John Mathieson, Amy Mosier, Karen Shultz, Jennifer Stevens

David Elcock & Tracye McDaniel

David Elcock & Tracye McDaniel

An evening full of inspiration and hope, Pink! provided touching personal experiences of those faced with the challenges of cancer and their will to survive and to thrive. Mayor Steve Adler, a cancer survivor himself, helped present Komen Austin’s Pink Diamond awards. Individuals who have demonstrated outstanding dedication and support for Komen Austin’s mission in the areas of philanthropy, advocacy and volunteerism are honored with this recognition each year.

Janice and Don Roesle

Janice and Don Roesle

Heath Hale & Assistant Police Chief Troy Gay

Heath Hale & Assistant Police Chief Troy Gay

Tracey Marshall, Seth Hale, Bill Marshall

Tracey Marshall, Seth Hale, Bill Marshall

As this is a fundraiser, an integral part of the evening are the silent and live auctions. This year, Heath Hale Auctioneers, masterfully managed the live auction and paddles up. Their energetic style, coupled with their ability to inspire healthy competition amongst the bidders, helped to exceed the fundraising goal. The energy was maintained into the next part of the evening, Club Pink! After Party featuring the rocking music of Groove Labs.

VIPink Cocktail Reception

VIPink Cocktail Reception

Maxine Roberts, Abby Argo & Vicki Roberts

Maxine Roberts, Abby Argo & Vicki Roberts

Other aspects which made Pink! memorable are those that make the evening so comfortable, such as the VIPink Valet Parking hosted by Texas Orthopedics, Sports & Rehabilitation Associates and the lively VIPink Cocktail Reception hosted by Lexus of Austin.

Karen and Tony Quintos

Karen and Tony Quintos

Kelly Martinez & Timothy Sanchez

Kelly Martinez & Timothy Sanchez

Since 1999 Komen Austin has invested nearly $11 million into breast health services and educational efforts in Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties. Additionally, close to $5 million has been raised to fund global research studies to find the cures for breast cancer.

Amy Mosier & Karin Foster

Amy Mosier & Karin Foster

Komen Austin is proud to announce Pink! 2016 will be co-chaired by Karin Foster and Amy Mosier.