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Karmanos Cancer Institute Honors Inspirational Individuals And Organizations With Its 2013 Heroes Of Breast Cancer Awards

"WJR is proud to play a role in communicating the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute's mission of prevention, early detection, treatment and eventual eradication of breast cancer. Our community is fortunate to have one of the best cancer centers in the nation located right here in Detroit. With that comes a responsibility to support Karmanos and the great work of all their team members." – Tom O'Brien, Vice President/Market Manager Cumulus Media – Detroit WJR/WDVD/DOUG-FM

PHILANTHROPY AWARD For dedication of resources and talents to benefit the cause of breast cancer.
  • The Detroit Tigers 

This championship team has been engaged in the fight against cancer for a long time. From participation in MLB's "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer, its long-time support of the Komen Detroit Race for the Cure, and the exciting "Pink Out the Park" events enhancing awareness of breast health among baseball fans, as well as raising funds to support Karmanos Cancer Institute's research; the Detroit Tigers have significantly helped educate and support Karmanos' mission to eradicate breast cancer, and all cancers.

"The Detroit Tigers are very proud to be honored by the Karmanos Cancer Institute with the Heroes of Breast Cancer Philanthropy Award. To stimulate fundraising for an organization that saves lives and improves our community so profoundly is important to us. We tip our caps and salute the Karmanos team of champions:  patients, caregivers and researchers, and we pledge our ongoing support." – David Dombrowski, Tigers' President, CEO and General Manager

COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD For voluntary efforts that help communicate the importance of breast cancer prevention, early detection, cancer care and/or survivorship within the community.
  • Individual: Steve Acho, of Bloomfield Hills

Local singer-songwriter Steve Acho generously donated his song "Heroes for Life" to Komen Detroit Race for the Cure to fund breast cancer research and needs-based community programs that provide breast cancer services for people in our community with limited resources. The song is available for download and purchase on iTunes. "Heroes for Life" is featured in a video produced and donated by the Emmy-winning Under the Radar Michigan team. Visit to learn more.

"I'm delighted to make a contribution to an organization that does so much to inspire positive change, and honored to receive this award." – Steve Acho
  • Organization: S.A.Y. Detroit Family Health Clinic

S.A.Y. Detroit (which stands for Super All Year Detroit) is a free, 24/7 clinic. The mission is to provide preventative and basic medical care with compassion, dignity, and respect to homeless, uninsured and under-insured women and children in a positively uplifted environment. Poverty and lack of access to healthcare has an adverse impact on breast health, and overall health, with more women being diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer. This clinic is the answer to the prayers of many Detroit-area families.

"I'm humbled to have the S.A.Y. Clinic recognized by Karmanos Cancer Institute with this tremendous honor. But the real heroes are people like my late sister-in-law, Debbie, who so bravely fight this horrendous disease with everything they have. If there's anything I can do to help them, it's my privilege, and I will strive to continue that work for many years to come." – Mitch Albom, Founder, S.A.Y. Detroit Family Clinic

COMPASSIONATE CAREGIVER AWARDS A health care professional whose treatment of breast cancer patients has been marked by exceptional technical skill, combined with sensitivity and compassion.
  • Lisa K. Astalos Chism, DNP, APRN, BC, NCMP, FAANP, of Woodhaven

As medical director of Karmanos' Women's Wellness Center, this doctor of nursing practice encourages women to be proactive about their health. From preventive care to diagnosis, through treatment and recovery, her clinics emphasize the importance of ongoing care and watchful monitoring for breast cancer. The highly honored Dr. Lisa Chism does it all with sensitive and compassionate care of her patients.

"From the moment I meet a patient at Karmanos, I feel connected to that patient and am committed to promoting their health and well-being. It is truly a privilege and an honor to care for my patients at Karmanos from diagnosis through survivorship."  – Lisa K. Astalos Chism, Medical Director of the Women's Wellness Clinic at Karmanos Cancer Center
  • Kathleen Hardy, LMSW, of Brighton

Karmanos Cancer Center's oncology social worker and cancer counselor embodies the intent of this award with the personal commitment she makes with her patients and the outstanding competence and professionalism she demonstrates every day. Kathleen Hardy is known for her ability to connect people to resources, and to each other. It all comes from her belief that no one should have to go through the cancer battle alone.

"It is a privilege to support women and men with breast cancer; thank you for this recognition." – Kathleen Hardy, oncology social worker, Karmanos' Weisberg Cancer Treatment Center, Farmington Hills

THE GERI LESTER COURAGE AWARDS, presented by Stefany Lester Freeman 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.
  • In Memory: Victoria S. Levin, formerly of Royal Oak, June 8, 1934Sept. 9, 2008

Victoria Levin was married to Congressman Sander Levin. Mrs. Levin worked on infant and children's mental health issues for three decades at the National Institutes of Health. She was a tireless advocate for scientific research and a mentor to many young scientists in her field, especially women. She lost her battle with metastatic breast cancer in 2008 but her memory and compassion for others' lives on by those she touched.

"Mom's struggle with breast cancer and its recurrence gave us a whole new understanding about who she was, as we were inundated with expressions of concern, support and admiration from so many people whose lives she touched. Mom would never think of herself as a hero, but she was a hero to us and, as we found out, to so many young scientists and professors whose careers she helped shape and whose lives she helped nurture." –Andy Levin
  • In Honor: Mary Chris Skeldon, of Toledo, OH

Mary Chris Skeldon has battled metastatic breast cancer since her first diagnosis in 1997 and again following a recurrence in 2011. An advocate on many levels, she is the consummate fighter who decided to remain positive, to keep going and smile through every aspect of her journey. A Karmanos patient of Dr. Patricia LoRusso, D.O., Mary Chris is committed to helping find a cure through her participation in clinical trials and championing research; and by sharing her story and raising funds for others battling this disease. She is supported by her husband Marty, their loving family and a very wide circle of friends who continue to be inspired by her determination and positive attitude.

"It is certainly a distinct honor to be selected as the recipient of the Heroes of Breast Cancer Geri Lester Courage Award. My 16-year battle has been made easier by many dedicated heath care providers. I have been fortunate to be in their loving care. I rest easier because of the superior world-class care provided by the Karmanos team. Because of this I have been able to offer hope to many women who are in similar circumstances. A wise physician told me to 'stay in life' and she would take care of the cancer. Those words have set me free." – Mary Chris Skeldon, board president, Susan G. Komen Northwest Ohio Affiliate

THE 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 (MCF), the forerunner of the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute. Dr. Brennan died in 2010 at the age of 89. He was a nationally-renowned oncologist when he took the helm of MCF in 1966, serving as its president until 1991. 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 an inspiration who helped put the Karmanos Cancer Institute on the map as a leader in compassionate, comprehensive cancer care. Dr. Brennan was beloved by his family, friends and patients and will be remembered for his wisdom, dedication and charming Irish personality.

Joint award presented by Gerold Bepler, M.D., Ph.D., to:
  • Csaba Juhasz, M.D., Ph.D., of Grosse Pointe, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology, PET Center, Children's Hospital of Michigan; and Sandeep Mittal, M.D., FRCSC, of West Bloomfield,

Co-Team Leader, Neuro-Oncology Multidisciplinary Team, Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute; and Professor, Wayne State University School of Medicine.

Doctors Juhasz and Mittal, neurologist and brain surgeon respectively, have pioneered an imaging method that allows visualization of breast cancer metastasis at such high resolution that tumors in the brain can be more accurately categorized. Their work can lead to treatments that are much better able to target the disease. This team's work is unique to Karmanos and is expected to have a remarkable impact for patients within five to ten years. 

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