An Interview with Kimberly Simpson Earle: Breast Cancer Awareness

Dec 4, 2012 by

Michael F. Shaughnessy –

1)      What is your exact title and what would you say you do at the Edith Sanford Foundation?

Kimberly Simpson Earle, president of the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation

2)      Where are you located, and what outreach activities do you sponsor?

The Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation is a national nonprofit organization headquartered in Sioux Falls, SD, that is pioneering a bold new comprehensive approach to breast cancer, with a mission to unlock each woman’s genetic code, advance today’s prevention and treatment, and end breast cancer for future generations.

Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Research is pursuing cutting-edge translational genomics research to identify specific treatments that will work best for each person, prevent the disease on an individual basis, and ultimately eradicate breast cancer. To accelerate the research and advances in care, a cornerstone of this ground-breaking organization is our biobank – a shared collection of genetic information from people of all ages, medical histories and backgrounds – that provides researchers easy access to data.

3)      Now, what types of funding do you provide if any?

Thanks to a transformational gift that launched the Foundation in 2011 and will catalyze its future growth, Edith Sanford is able to commit 100 percent of every individual contribution to its genomics research program to identify specific treatments that will work best or prevent the disease on an individual basis, and ultimately eradicate breast cancer for future generations.

Kimberly Simpson Earle

Kimberly Simpson Earle

We can ensure that contributions are wisely used because we work directly with the physicians and researchers performing this innovative research rather than awarding grants to outside labs or institutions.

4)      Let’s talk about increasing awareness. How often should a women be medically examined and at what age?

In general, yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40, however women should work with their health care provider to create an informed prevention or treatment plan that focuses on their individual needs. Women who appear to be at increased risk of breast cancer because of their family history may need additional tests at an earlier age. Genetic counseling is also an option to learn more about potential risks and genetic tests.

We encourage women to know the signs and understand what is normal for their bodies, paying attention to how their breasts feel and look each month. Any changes should be immediately discussed with a health care provider.

5)      Are there follow up tests in the event of lumps or oddities?

Women should always consult with their health care provider immediately and have follow-up testing done if abnormalities are detected. Most abnormalities are not breast cancer, but there are a range of tests available to know for sure. These tests can include mammography, ultrasound screening and/or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

6)      Are there specialists in terms of oncology that address these issues?

There is a spectrum of breast cancer clinical and support specialists that includes breast cancer surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, oncology nurses, genetic counselors and others.

At Edith Sanford, breast cancer care is provided through our partner, Sanford Health, which is headquartered in Sioux Falls, SD, and is the largest rural, nonprofit health care system in the nation. Edith Sanford is building and expanding upon Sanford Health’s current nationally accredited care, including full accreditation by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), which is a rigorous evaluation that demonstrates a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach to breast diseases.

7)      Who was Edith Sanford?

Edith was a young wife and mother who lost her life to breast cancer.

In 2010, entrepreneur Denny Sanford, Edith’s son, chose to honor his mother’s legacy by providing the generous gift that launched the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation and that enables the foundation to invest 100 percent of all individual contributions into its cutting-edge genomic research program.

8)      What have been some of the more recent developments in treatment and early identification and intervention?

Scientific discovery is converging with technological innovation to yield exciting opportunities for personalized breast cancer treatment and care that we once couldn’t have imagined.

At Edith Sanford, our research team is leveraging advanced genomic sequencing technologies to identify the molecular drivers of each patient’s tumor. This information can be used to evaluate risk, identify prevention strategies, and select treatments precisely targeted to the cancer-causing deficiency.

This is a truly personalized approach to breast cancer treatment and care—one that recognizes that each woman’s cancer is unique. We are committed to accelerating our discoveries to patients, and bringing the potential of genomics into communities to improve the treatment and standard of care for breast cancer patients everywhere.

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