Award Recipients


Hope Chest for Breast Cancer Foundation 

2023 BCEA Award Winner - Hope Chest for Breast Cancer

A breast cancer diagnosis affects the entire family. Two-thirds of breast cancer treatment costs are non-medical. The mortgage still needs to be paid, children need to eat, the electric bill won't wait.

Barbara Hensley, the founder of Hope Chest for Breast Cancer, realized this when her own sisters were going though treatment. One of the young women Barbara met at the treatment center changed her life. When she realized that the woman's two young children had to sit with her through her chemo sessions because she couldn't afford day care, and that the whole family had to get back and forth to treatment by bus, Barbara was determined to do something to help.

Hope Chest aims to meet the needs that other organizations miss. Their retail stores fund nutrition programs, unpaid utility bills and much more. Their website connects families with other resources that can be helpful as well. Hope Chest is an integral partner in the BCEA mission of fighting for equity for those diagnosed with breast cancer.

Pictured: Board Chair Callie Biese, Founder Barbara Hensley, Executive Director Maureen Scallen Failor, BCEA President Donna DeGracia


BCEA Annual Conference Award 

Since its founding, the Breast Cancer Education Association annually recognizes a group or individual for outstanding support and outreach to the breast cancer community.  Whether a professional organization or a dedicated single volunteer, it was decided to honor those who go above and beyond in supporting education, prevention, encouragement and hope surrounding breast cancer.



This year’s honoree is very well known in the local cancer community – but has especially made a huge impact on BCEA in recent years by generously supporting critical cancer screening and education outreach efforts to underserved communities. We simply could not have reached the numbers we did without the support of the Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund.

We know that people in medically underserved communities are less likely to have recommended cancer screening tests and are more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage cancer. Funding from grants such as those provided by the Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund have helped improve the lives of Minnesotans through collaborative partnerships with trusted organizations serving Minnesota’s African American, Native American, Hispanic and Asian Pacific Islander communities.


Roxane Battle 

Roxane Battle

It is especially fitting that Roxane Battle is honored and celebrated at our 20th anniversary conference. A long-time supporter of BCEA, Roxane has been with us since the beginning. In fact, she emceed the very first BCEA education conference. She has been with us many times since and we are honored each time she is willing to share the day with us. As a speaker, Roxane uses her gift of storytelling to help people find ways to better manage stress, build resiliency and find joy during times of transition. Her talent is evident and brings our conference to a higher level. We are so very grateful that she chooses to share her time and talent with BCEA.

Roxane serves as Vice President of Advocacy and Community at Sanvello Health, a UnitedHealth Group digital mental health care company. Prior to joining Sanvello, she spent 20+ years as an Emmy-nominated television news reporter and anchor at KARE11-NBC Minneapolis, CBS and FOX. She is an Amazon best-selling author, and her self-help memoir, Pockets of Joy, Deciding to Be Happy, Choosing to Be Free, is now in its third printing. Roxane is a native of Minnesota and a graduate of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She earned her master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.



Jack’s Caregiver Coalition 

Jack’s Caregiver Coalition was founded in 2014 by three male caregivers who wanted to “pay it forward” by sharing their own experiences with other men in similar circumstances. Today, they are on a mission to improve the way men think, feel, and act in their role as a cancer caregiver.

The organization is founded on the belief that:

• One of the biggest and most important challenges a man can face in his lifetime is that of caring for a loved one with a serious disease like cancer.

• Every man has the potential to rise to that challenge and bring his boldest, most confident self to it.

•  When men fully engage with their role as a caregiver, the wellness of the loved ones they care for, the wellness of their own selves, and the wellness of their entire families will be significantly improved.

• Creating a community for men who are caregivers has the potential to improve entire communities.


The hospitality provided by Jack’s brings these men together, and together they improve. At Jack’s, men find understanding and support from others who have been in their shoes. Volunteers help with the daily work that still needs to get done, from raking leaves to painting a room. And respite events like ice fishing, golfing and hunting provide self-care opportunities.


Front Line Workers 

In 2020, with the harsh reality of a pandemic hitting the world, more than ever we have leaned on all of the men and women on the front line of healthcare and public safety.  This year’s BCEA Award goes to all of the pandemic heroes: nurses, physicians, outreach and screening professionals, police officers, fire fighters, paramedics and really people on all levels of healthcare.  Their selfless dedication to their work makes all of us safer and healthier.

Thank you to all pandemic heroes!


Reona Berry, Rachel Fletcher and Julissa Rios 

Reona Berry
Reona is a founding member and president of the African American Breast Cancer Alliance (AABCA). Since its inception in October 1990, AABCA has been sharing culturally specific, easy-to-understand and life-affirming information about breast cancer with African Americans. The organization is dedicated to providing hope, awareness, education, emotional and social support to breast cancer survivors, their family members and the community. AABCA is recognized locally and nationally for its collaborative efforts and innovative educational materials. Reona has been a longtime attendee and exhibitor at the BCEA conference.



Rachel Fletcher
At the Community Health Program of West Side Community Health Services, Rachel Fletcher oversees a team of 14 staff members providing direct services to more than 11,000 people and reaches another 9,000 through outreach programs. The program operates a number of public health programs ranging from HIV prevention, testing, and treatment, to diabetes prevention, prenatal health, family planning, and breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening and linkage to care. Rachel has over fifteen years’ experience in public health, including time in Quito, Ecuador where she worked as a health educator in a family planning and sexual health clinic. In addition to her work with breast cancer, Rachel has personal experience as a breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed at a young age.



Julissa Rios
Julissa grew up in Peru and has been living in Minnesota for 25 years. She has worked at La Clinica, part of West Side Community Health Services, for the past 18 years. The clinic’s bilingual/bicultural staff provides culturally-appropriate education and community outreach, securing affordable options to pay for screenings and follow-up care. As a case manager, Julissa advocates daily for her patients, many of whom experience multiple barriers to care, helping them navigate the system and coordinating health services while offering compassionate support. She helps them understand medical coverage, answers their questions and connects them to much-needed resources while encouraging them to be positive and believe in a new tomorrow full of hope - full of ESPERANZA!


Judy Erdahl 

Judy Erdahl has been living with cancer for over 20 years. She spent much of her adult life serving families as a licensed parent educator. When Judy’s third round with cancer forced her to retire she turned her energies towards writing and educating others about the real world of stage IV breast cancer.  She has shared her story with audiences large and small and is a passionate advocate of metastatic breast cancer research and education.

She is a co-founder of “Team Judy” which raises money to support metastatic breast cancer research at the Masonic Cancer Center, at the University of Minnesota. Judy shares her story of living with metastatic disease to encourage others to learn to live each day with gratitude, compassion and hope.


Kelly Grosklags, LICSW, BCD 

Kelly Grosklags

For nearly 25 years Kelly has dedicated her practice to minimizing suffering through her work in oncology, palliative care and hospice. An experienced therapist and gifted speaker, Kelly created Conversations with Kelly as a public healing forum to broaden her reach as a psychotherapist, social worker and healer for patients and families.

Kelly frequently speaks about end-of-life care, and grief and loss issues at hospitals, clinical conferences, churches, funeral homes and schools. Her passionate and supportive demeanor helps patients, caregivers and health professionals connect with the wisdom of dying a good death, making life more meaningful, coping with depression and anxiety, transforming fear into hope and healing versus curing.

Kelly is a Board Certified Diplomat in clinical social work and earned a fellowship in grief counseling from the American Academy of Health Care Professionals. She earned a Master’s Degree in clinical social work from the University of St. Thomas/University of St. Catherine and currently sits on the board of directors for Angel Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports families living with cancer.

Kelly is currently writing a book of stories from cancer survivors and their caregivers. Her private psychotherapy practice is located in Minneapolis.


Judy Shoulak, Shoulak BreastFest 

Judy Shoulak

Beginning in 2011, the same year she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Judy Shoulak and her family began hosting an annual outdoor music festival at their home in rural Corcoran to raise money for breast cancer awareness, research and education, treatment, and a cure. Hosted in mid-September, the annual festival consists of live music, outdoor activities for the whole family, and silent and live auctions. Proceeds from these events have been distributed among several local breast cancer charities over the years. The 2015 event, the Silver Edition was held September 19 and raised $58,9000 and was be given to six local breast cancer charities: the Breast Cancer Education Association, Park Nicollet Foundation, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Piper Breast Cancer Emergency Fund, The Firefly Sisterhood, and The Hope Chest.


Sona Mehring 

CEO of CaringBridge

Sona Mehring

Sona Mehring is the founder and CEO of CaringBridge, a nonprofit that enables healing during times of need through the support of family, friends and caregivers. She created the first CaringBridge website in 1997 during a friend’s high-risk pregnancy. With extensive experience in the information technology industry, Sona’s vision was to build upon that formative and deeply personal experience – combining the capabilities of technology with the personal needs of people facing a significant life challenge. In the years since, Sona and CaringBridge have become widely known for the creation of a personal, protected online platform that transforms an individual’s personal connections into a powerful community of support.


Nancy Hutchison, MD 

Virginia Piper Cancer Institute and Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute

Nancy Hutchison

Nancy A. Hutchison, MD is a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PMR) Specialist and the Medical Director of Cancer Rehabilitation and Survivorship for the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute and Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute in Minneapolis, Minn. Dr. Hutchison graduated first in her medical school class at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. She completed her internship in Internal Medicine at North Carolina Baptist Hospital and PMR residency at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Hutchison has quality and programmatic oversight for cancer rehabilitation and cancer survivorship for the Allina Hospitals and the Courage Kenny Sports and Physical Therapy. Under her direction AllinaHealth cancer rehabilitation program has become STAR (Survivorship, Training and Rehabilitation) Program® Certified and her team won the 2013 Allina Award of Excellence. Her duties include directing over 80 STAR Certified™ Clinicians in cancer rehabilitation, more than 40 Certified Lymphedema Therapists and creating survivorship provider networks within Allina Health.

Dr. Hutchison has received a number of awards for her work including the 2009 Allina Hospitals and Clinics Uncommon Caring Award, the 2010 Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Robert and Yvonne MacDonald Distinguished Employee Award. She is known for creating a standard of excellence and uniform protocols for cancer rehabilitation and lymphedema care across Allina Health. She received certification as a Lymphedema Therapist from the Klose Training Institute in 2007, advanced certification by the Lymphology Association of North America in 2008 and STAR™ Clinician Certification by Oncology Rehab Partners in 2011. Dr. Hutchison served as the Chair of the National Lymphedema Network Medical Advisory Committee from 2010-2013. She is named as one of the Top Doctors by Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine and Top Doctors for Women by Minnesota Monthly.


Michelle Morey and Scott Bissen 

Pay It Forward Fund

Michelle Morey and Scott Bissen

The Pay It Forward Fund was founded in 2005 by Michelle Morey, a breast cancer survivor, and her husband, Scott Bissen. As Michelle neared the end of her treatment, they wanted to find a way to give back. Michelle and Scott witnessed patients struggle to pay the most basic of expenses, so they agreed to donation $500 per month to the North Memorial Foundation to help patients struggling financially.

Their first donation was spent on the day it was received. It was used to restore running water to a home for a woman who could not pay her water bill and whose water was shut off by the utility company. The woman's children were going to be removed from her home by Child Protection Services because the home had no running water. Following this experience, and discovering that their $500 donation would not go far, they decided to fundraise and create the Pay It Forward Fund.

Since then, the fund has helped patients buy groceries, pay their mortgages, heat their homes, keep their lights and water on, and repair their cards so they can drive to chemo. For hundreds of women in need, these gifts have made a difference in a time of crisis. With Michelle's leadership and Scott's incredible fundraising and networking skills, Pay It Forward has raised close to $2 million in just seven years.

Michelle is the co-owner of her family business, Magnetic Products and Services, Inc. ( and Scott recently returned to work as a police officer at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport after spending 11 years at home raising their two young boys.


Barbara Bowers, MD and Douglas Yee, MD 

Barbara Bowers, MDBarbara Bowers, MD

A native of Mora, Minn., Dr. Bowers attended medical school at the University of Minnnesota and graduated in 1976. She subsequently specialized in medical oncology at Masonic Cancer Hospital at the University of Minnesota, where she earned a subspecialty in breast cancer. Dr. Bowers is the Medical Director of Fairview Southdale Medical Oncology Clinic.

Dr. Bowers has worked to create a coordinated program with breast radiography, breast surgeons, plastic surgeons and oncologists, working together to provide seamless care for all women with abnormal mammograms. Recently the Breast Center has opened a comprehensive High Risk Clinic including genetic counseling, a new MRI with state of the art software for breast imaging, on-site lymphedema therapy, and an on-site psychologist.

In addition, she is active in multiple clinical trials for treatment and prevention of breast cancer. Dr. Bowers believes it is important to pursue better treatments for breast cancer but the best of all scenarios is if we could prevent women from developing breast cancer in the first place.

Douglas Yee, MDDouglas Yee, MD

Douglas Yee, MD, is the director of the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota. A professor in the Departments of Medicine and Pharmacology, Dr. Yee holds the John H. Kersey Chair in Cancer Research. His laboratory research is focused on the growth regulation of tumors by the insulin-like growth factors and their relevance to cancer. He also maintains an active clinical practice in breast medical oncology at the Breast Center, University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview. He has served on national grant review panels including the National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense Integration Panel. He serves on the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Minnesota Affiliate Board of Directors and was recognized as a Komen Scholar. He has published more than 150 papers primarily focused on breast cancer.

Dr. Yee graduated from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and earned his medical degree from the University of Chicago. He completed his residency at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and his fellowship at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md. Before coming to Minnesota, he held faculty positions at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.


Kelly Moore 

Treasured Chests

Kelly Founder

Kelly is a single mom, a 3rd grade school teacher, a former MN Vikings Cheerleader, a cable TV music host, but most importantly…she is all of these because she has been cancer free since 2002.  Driven by determination and passion to improve breast cancer awareness after beating it, the wake up call that “cancer could happen to anyone, but me?!!” motivated her to “found” Treasured Chests in 2005. Her nonprofit organization combats this disease that affects 178,000 American women each year.

The Treasured Chests "PINK-y Promise is to raise awareness & monies for early detection, research, & prevention by directly helping those diagnosed with breast cancer. Kelly hosts several events each year which include the Rock the Dock Runway Show, MN Saints Games, Golf “FORE” A Cure Tournament, a Motorcycle “BRA” Run & many more entertaining outings for all ages to attend. The events are successful thanks to those who generously support the events with their talent, time, sponsorship and resources.  As a result of her passion, she and her team are making a difference in Minnesota by supporting those who are fighting, sharing the admirable stories of survivors, and honoring loved ones who lost their lives to breast cancer.


Sue Miller 

Day of Caring Founder

Sue Miller

Sue Miller has dedicated her life to helping others who are fighting breast cancer, and she has made a positive impact on thousands of lives. Sue has been a role model for outreach and education, encouragement, and empowerment for everyone affected by the disease.

Sue Miller was a wife and mother of three young children, and a professional fashion model, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1971. After several years of struggling with breast cancer and the effects on her family, friends and career as a model, Sue took a big step in the public fight against breast cancer – she agreed to stage a fashion show if all the models were breast cancer survivors. That event became the first Denver Day of Caring for Breast Cancer Awareness. Sue’s Day of Caring is now an annual community even in Denver, providing information and a message of hope for the hundreds of people in each community who need encouragement for the fight against breast cancer. The Twin Cities Breast Cancer Awareness Conference was modeled after Denver’s Day of Caring.

The Breast Cancer Awareness Association Award was created to honor and celebrate the work of individuals in the fight against breast cancer. The award is given annually to individuals whose work in the field of breast disease and related health issues has made an outstanding positive impact in the community.


Christine K. Norton 

Co-Founder, Minnesota Breast Cancer Coalition

Christine Norton

Christine Norton was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 1990 at age 44. Her impressive career in breast cancer advocacy began in July 1991 when she served as Minnesota state captain for the National Breast Cancer Coalition_s Do The Write Thing Letterwriting Campaign, which sought increased funding for breast cancer research. The success of this grass roots effort spurred Chris Norton and Cher Johnson to found the Minnesota Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC) in October 1991. In addition to serving as president of the MBCC, Chris is also on the Board of Directors of the National Breast Cancer Coalition and serves as Minnesota_s Lead Field Coordinator for NBCC. Chris has served on the steering committee for the Komen Race for the Cure/Twin Cities since its inception in 1993, as well as on numerous American Cancer Society and Minnesota Department of Health committees. She has been a peer reviewer for breast cancer grants for the Department of Defense, Avon, and the University of Minnesota.

Chris Norton is a passionate, positive, persevering woman-a believer. She uses knowledge as power and shares it generously with anyone willing to listen and learn. She stands up everyday informing people, asking hard questions, challenging conventions, finding ways around barriers and affecting legislative decisions that determine insurance coverage of breast cancer tests and treatments. Chris Norton is engaged in life fully. The overwhelming is not too hard. It is merely her next goal. We are indeed fortunate to have Chris Norton as a leader and advocate for all Minnesota women, men and children.

In her non-volunteer life, Chris teaches English at Park High School in Cottage Grove. She and her husband have three adult children and one grandchild.

"Everything I do is for my daughter, Kathleen, and the young women I teach. I hope in their lifetimes we will know what causes breast cancer, and therefore how to prevent this disease, which affects so many families. There are many legacies I want to pass on to my daughter, but breast cancer is not one of them."

The Breast Cancer Awareness Association Award was created to honor and celebrate the work of individuals in the fight against breast cancer. The award is given annually to individuals whose work in the field of breast disease and related health issues has made an outstanding positive impact in the community.


Jan Zimmerman 

Jan Zimmerman

Jan’s cancer journey began in February 1995 when she found a lump in her breast. Four months prior to her discovery, she had a mammogram that revealed nothing. Her internist and a surgeon were certain her finding was nothing and told her to come back in six weeks. Jan insisted on more aggressive diagnosis, and finally, the doctor performed a needle biopsy. Two days later Jan received confirmation, she had cancer.

Jan had a lumpectomy, and they discovered that the margins were not clean. She had 12 positive lymph nodes, and she was diagnosed with lobular cancer, which she learned does not show up on a mammogram. Likely, the cancer had been in her body anywhere from two to six years. Since lobular cancer is often bilateral, Jan insisted on a double mastectomy to diminish the risk of future occurrence. She realized she was in a battle to save her life. When additional tests revealed a small portion, less then 1%, in her bones, Jan chose a bone marrow transplant, a controversial treatment. During the five weeks, she was in the transplant unit, she wanted to talk to another woman who had gone through bone marrow transplant, but she could not find anyone who was willing to talk to her. She vowed then that if she survived, she would talk to other women. She would help them get through this ordeal, and that is what she has been doing. One-on-one, face-to-face, over the phone or cyberspace, she makes connections. She lets people know that she understands. By her example, she demonstrates that they can get to the other side. Their hair will grow back. They will be able to breathe easier. Although they may have bad days, they can have a good quality life while living with this disease. Jan’s work primarily is in the Twin Cities through the Komen Foundation’s Race for the Cure Shop, but she doesn’t limit the extent of her grass-roots commitment. While waiting for a table in The Netherlands several months ago, she talked with a man whose wife and daughter both were very ill with breast cancer. She gave him her card. She has talked to his daughter many times, continues to do so and will be an ongoing source of strength and hope.

Jan realized that her cancer made many feel vulnerable. She had a long history of running for fitness. She was a vegetarian, and everyone considered her a healthy person.They thought, "If Jan can get it..."

Since 1997 Jan has managed the Twin Cities Shop for the Cure. She has done whatever she could to raise awareness and funds for the cause. She ran her first Twin Cities Race for the Cure nine days after her mastectomy. She still had drainage tubes connected to her. It was important for her to know that she still could live her life, she could still run. She did it for herself, but it turned out she was an inspiring example to others.

"This is not the road I would have chosen for myself, but somehow here I am. Aside from this terrible disease, I have a wonderful life. I have the best support system: doctors, family, friends and of course the people at the Komen Foundation. If you are open to seeing them, there are some goodies that can come out of this experience, and they will enrich your life. I have made many major changes in my life in order to survive. I feel that if I can touch only one woman and let her know that she can get on the other side of this and have a good life, then I will have made a contribution. I know that I have touched and helped many."


Carol Bergen  

Clinical Manager of the Piper Breast Center

Carol Bergen

Carol Bergen’s title, Clinical Manager of the Piper Breast Center, barely begins to describe the scope and depth of her connections with breast cancer. Carol is the epitome of a caring and knowledgeable professional, a community activist, and a champion of quality health care. In addition to a nursing degree from St. Mary’s College, Carol also has a BS in Health Care Management from Cardinal Stritch College. Carol managed oncology units at Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina and at Paradise Valley Hospital in San Diego before she became the clinical manager of oncology at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in 1987.

Carol’s expertise as a nurse and her involvement with breast cancer survivors were instrumental in the development of the Piper Breast Center. In 1994, during the design phase of the Piper Breast Center, Carol organized a group of over 20 breast cancer survivors who advised Abbott Northwestern on the planning and development of the Piper Breast Center. Thanks to Carol, survivors had a voice in the physical design of the Piper Breast Center and the development of various programs to complement healing and recovery. If you have had a mammogram at Piper and have appreciated the plush robes, the cup of tea or coffee, and the comfortable atmosphere, you can thank Carol and the survivor advisers. Carol championed the original idea of the Living Room at the Piper Breast Center. Through expansions and renovations of the breast center, Carol continues to insist on maintaining a focus on the patients and their comfort and convenience.

Carol’s focus on quality health care is also evident in her management of daily operations at the Piper Breast Center. Under Carol’s guidance, physicians, nurses, and volunteers all work together to bring state-of-the-art care in a truly nurturing environment to each patient at the Piper Breast Center. The Junior League of Minneapolis honored Carol in 2001 as its Community Volunteer of the Year. Carol’s activism has extended far beyond Minnesota on medical missions to Guatemala and Romania. Dr. Beverly Trombley, a radiologist at Piper Breast Center, points out that "Carol is known at Piper Breast Center for many things. She is vivacious, warm-hearted and committed to the vision of comprehensive care for women. She is relentless in her pursuit of setting and meeting high expectations of service for our patients. We are quite proud of her".


Susan Pappas-Varco, RN, MA 

Breast Cancer Program Coordinator, University Medical Center

Susan Pappas-Varco

Susan Pappas-Varco is recognized as one of Minnesota’s leading experts in the field of patient care and breast cancer. Although a nurse since the early 1970’s, Susan’s first direct experience with breast cancer was when her 47 year-old sister, Mary Alice, was diagnosed with an advanced case of the disease 13 years ago. Susan became passionate about the impact of breast cancer on the lives of women and was inspired by many of the amazing women she met who were survivors. She started doing volunteer work for breast cancer organizations and in 1998 became the program coordinator for the University of Minnesota Medical Center breast cancer program. “This is a job I have loved: it is such a privilege to be part of a woman’s life at such a critical time. I continually learn from the woman that I have had the opportunity to work with.” Much of her work involves working with women who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer and coordinating their medical care to make sure they are seeing the right person for their treatment. She also moderates two supports groups with Ann Cummins, LSW; one is a Young Women’s Survivor Group for women under 40. And she coordinates weekly breast cancer casework reviews for those professionals involved in a patient’s treatment plan.

In addition to a nursing degree from University of Minnesota at Mankato, Susan also has a Master's degree in Counseling Psychology. The combination of nursing and psychology has provided invaluable skills in the work that she loves. Susan began her nursing career working as a staff nurse in New York City at Cornell Medical Center. After relocating back to Minnesota in 1975, she became a nursing manager/director at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. She currently does lots of public speaking engagements both as an educator and advocate for breast cancer and patient care. Her topics include "Advances in Breast Cancer Treatment", "Beyond Breast Cancer", "Am I At Risk?" She has given over 50 presentations to a variety of community groups, breast cancer survivors, and health professionals and has received several patient service awards from the University of Minnesota. Susan has been a member of the steering committee for the Twin Cities Race for the Cure for the last 10 years.

Susan remains passionately interested in breast cancer. “I am so interested in this disease, and I always want to know more. I am always pushing to make it better.” She believes that all of her patients will do well and come out stronger for the experience. Her optimism is contagious.

And finally, Susan is happy to report that today her sister, Mary Alice, is healthy and living a wonderful life.


Twin Cities Komen 

Susan G. Komen for the Cure Minnesota Affiliate

Susan G. Komen

In January of 1992, Charlene Plitman, a lifelong resident of Minneapolis, brought Race for the Cure to the Twin Cities in honor of her mother Ada, who at that time was an eight-year survivor of breast cancer. The trauma that the diagnosis inflicted upon Ada was burned indelibly into her memory and it remains an experience that she will never forget. After her mother’s diagnosis, she became extremely sensitive to the issue of breast cancer. She learned that breast cancer is a pervasive disease that has an impact on far too many people and she was determined to heighten the Twin Cities’ awareness.

Though the first Twin Cities Race for the Cure was held in 1993, it was in October of 1998 that the Minnesota Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for Cure was established. While Race for the Cure remains the primary fundraiser for the Affiliate, there are numerous other fundraising events, including Golf for the Cure, Shop for the Cure and many other for the Cure events and cause-marketing programs that raise funds year-round.

The inaugural Race in 1993 had 2,500 participants, while the 2008 Race attracted nearly 50,000. Over of the very unique characteristics of the Minnesota Affiliate is that all of its fundraising events, including Race for the Cure are primarily volunteer driven. This allows the Affiliate to maximize its investment in breast health programs. Today, the Affiliate grants funds to non-profit organization to support breast health programs throughout the state of Minnesota. Collectively, the Minnesota Affiliate has invested over $25 million to create breast cancer awareness programs and fund breast cancer education, screening, research and preliminary treatment programs for tens of thousands of Minnesotans. Charlene Plitman and David Egan serve as the Co-Executive Directors of the Minnesota Affiliate.


Dr. Jonathon Slater and Gay Lynn Richards 

Dr. Jonathon Slater Dr. Jonathon Slater
Dr. Jonathan Slater was Sage’s first program director and has been Chief of Cancer Control at the Minnesota Department of Health since 1992. As a behavioral epidemiologist he has performed extensive research on using social marketing to increase cancer screening among undeserved women. Dr. Slater was the Principal Investigator on numerous grants from the National Cancer Institute and the Center for Disease Control. He received his PhD from Pennsylvania State University and a three-year National Service Award for a National Institute of Health postdoctoral fellowship in the Division of Epidemiology at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Slater is also a member of the University of Minnesota Cancer Center’s Prevention and Etiology Research Program.

Gay Lynn RichardsGay Lynn Richards MS, RN, MPS, CNS
Gay Lynn Richards is a clinical nurse specialist and Regional Coordinator for the Sage Screening Program at the Minnesota Department of Health. Gay Lynn received her nursing bachelorette degree from Dominican University in San Rafael, California and Masters in Public Health from the University of Minnesota. After working in oncology nursing she received an advanced certification in breast health from the Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. She is a recipient of the Outstanding Alumni Achievement Awards from the Dominican University of San Rafael, California and the Community Service Award by the University Of Minnesota School Of Public Health. Gay Lynn also volunteers with the American Cancer Society.


Mark Migliori 

Mark Migliori received his B.S. in 1984 and his M.D. in 1987 from Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. Happily for us, he left his home in the northeast that year and came to the Twin Cities to do his internship at University of Minnesota Hospital and remained to complete residencies in General Surgery and Plastic Surgery.

Dr. Migliori chooses to limit his practice to his two passions: breast reconstructive surgery and cleft palate repair. By doing so he limits his own financial reward and makes the conscious choice to dedicate his life’s work to helping women preserve their dignity during a time of fear and vulnerability. He is described by one woman as “literally a light in a dark and dismal time.” Many other breast cancer survivors eagerly testify to the significant contribution his care made in the quality of their treatment and recovery. Dr. Migliori works closely with Mentor Corporation in their mutual quest to refine and develop new implant options for breast cancer survivors. In addition to being a gifted surgeon, Dr. Migliori is a talented musician. For the last eight years, as a drummer/percussionist in his trio, The Remnants, he performs annually to raise funds for the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute.

Dr. Migliori is an authentic, compassionate man, who makes each woman he sees in his practice feel cared for and important. He has earned the respect of breast cancer survivors, their loved ones and the greater Twin Cities community because of his individual example, generosity, leadership and compassion as a surgeon and as a human being. He honors us by being our 2002 Recipient of the Sue Miller Award.

The Sue Miller Award was created in 1986 to honor and celebrate the work of Sue Miller in the fight against breast cancer. The award is given annually at Day of Caring events nationwide to individuals whose work in the field of breast disease and related health issues has make an outstanding, positive impact in the community.