In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, our feature story highlights the activities of local volunteers for Komen CAN AZ. Everyone who contributes their small bit for a charitable cause should remember that small acts can, and often do, have huge consequences.
Today, 30 bilingual Community Outreach Ambassadors (COAs) volunteer for Komen CAN AZ. Each one’s activities produce a “domino effect” – that’s when one small action causes a linked series of changes in a linear sequence. Big multi-media ad campaigns can’t always bridge linguistic and cultural gaps between messengers and receivers. That’s where the bilingual ambassadors come in. Giving talks at local venues or health fairs, they employ the most effective kind of information sharing: one-on-one. An individual who takes a message about breast cancer risks or symptoms to heart will, in turn, pass it on to a neighbor, who passes it on to a mother-in-law, and so on, through interpersonal communication networks at the community level. Pretty soon, everyone’s in the know.
For breast cancer survivor, Cony Padilla, whose treatment was made possible by Komen CAN AZ funding, her motive was to give back. She organized a team for the 2012 Susan G. Komen Phoenix Race for the Cure® and collected $400 from sponsors. Four hundred dollars? Would that even cover the cost of a single radiation treatment? But, Cony Padilla was thrilled; she understands the “butterfly effect” – when one small action results in large differences in a much later state. Donations from runners go into a pool of funds, 25 percent of which is used to underwrite cancer research.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Florida, for example, have recently published the results of a study revealing the efficacy of the drug, decitabine, in curbing the spread of invasive breast cancer. The action of a gene, PRKD1, is crucial for the production of a protein that can stop cancer cells from separating from a tumor and spreading. Evidently, decitabine “turns on” this gene in organisms in which its activity has been repressed by the disease. According to the study’s senior investigator, Dr. Peter Storz, the treatment with decitabine is a promising alternative to chemotherapy and hormonal therapy that “offers a new avenue to prevent breast cancer from becoming aggressive and untreatable.” When Cony Padilla reads a story like this, she knows that she, her $400, and her great example had an important role to play in this discovery.
So, be a “butterfly” or be a “domino” – whatever you contribute to a worthy cause, it can’t be too little.