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Karmanos Cancer Institute honors inspirational individuals and organizations with its 2012 Heroes of Breast Cancer Awards

Since 1995, the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute has celebrated National Breast Cancer Awareness Month by recognizing individuals and organizations for their demonstrated leadership in raising awareness of breast cancer through education, research and the promotion of early detection, treatment and stories of survivorship. Continuing this tradition, the Karmanos Cancer Institute presented its 18th Annual Heroes of Breast Cancer Awards on Oct. 30. More than 200 guests attended the event at the Max M. Fisher Music Center. Radio and television personality Ann Delisi, host of "Ann Delisi's Essential Music" on WEDT 101.9 FM, served as emcee; and members of the Detroit Symphony Civic Jazz Ensembles entertained gusts as they arrived.

"I am in awe of our awardees, representing all areas of our community, and all they do to enhance awareness of breast cancer to help save lives,” said Gerold Bepler, M.D., Ph.D., president and CEO, Karmanos Cancer Institute. “As a researcher and physician, I’m also deeply inspired by our patients who, in spite of their cancer diagnosis, continue to encourage and comfort others, even those battling this disease. 

“I promise you, our team at Karmanos will continue to advance cancer research by developing better, targeted treatments for breast cancer and other cancers, and we’ll continue to deliver the compassionate care our patients and their families have come to expect. Your fight is our fight and we will remain vigilant in our mission to eradicate cancer.”

Maureen Keenan Meldrum, director, Breast Cancer Special Programs at Karmanos and chair of the Susan G. Komen Detroit Race for the Cure® added, “Today, we have reason to celebrate: breast cancer death rates in the United States have steadily decreased since 1990; and there are more than 2.9 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. However, as long as there are women and men being diagnosed with late-stage disease due to lack of awareness, access to screening, resources and care, we will remain committed to do all we can so that all people have the best chance to survive this disease.  

“It's a privilege to honor this year's Heroes awardees who continue to promote prevention and advocate for all those touched by this disease. By their example, they demonstrate that everyone can make a difference.”

The following awards were given at this year's event.

Leadership Award
For helping to bring about a society that now encourages people to speak out about their illness, where funding for breast cancer research is improving each year, and a society where more and more people are learning about breast cancer.

Media Awards
For media work that communicates important messages about breast cancer.

Philanthropy Awards
For dedication of resources and talents to benefit the cause of breast cancer.

Community Service Award
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.

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

The Geri Lester Courage Awards 
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 the Heroes of Breast Cancer Program. Geri 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, Geri always saw the good in others, the gifts of everyday living and the hope in every situation. Geri 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.

Dr. Michael J. Brennan Scientific Distinction Award
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 199l. Under his leadership, MCF became the country’s 20th comprehensive cancer center in 1978. 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.

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