Survivor helps others


  Editor's note: Charlene Kazner is pictured on the far right.

  Editor's note: Charlene Kazner is pictured on the far right.

Charlene Kazner of Garden Grove is a uterine cancer survivor who has dedicated herself to spreading awareness about breast cancer.

“Five years ago, through my annual pap smear test, I found I had cancer,” Kazner said. “Because it was detected very early, I didn't require chemo therapy nor radiation.”

“At the suggestion of both my gynecologist and oncologist, I did have a full hysterectomy,” she added. “And I was so thankful that I wanted to give back something to the community and contacted officers at the organization of Pacific Islander Health Partnership (PIHP) and offered my services.”

Now, as one of the directors of the organization of PIHP, Kazner said PIHP are a grantee of Susan G. Komen, O.C., which is an affiliate of the SGK Foundation.

“As part of the grant proposal, we said we would encourage the collection of normal and healthy breast tissue, to support the clinical research that SGK Foundation has with the Indiana University Simon Cancer Center in Indiana,” Kazner said.

Kazner said she traveled to Indiana in February with two other Orange County residents to donate healthy breast tissue to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Tissue Bank at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center.

“As part of the PHIP, I've been able to go into the community and promote the importance of early detection and help women understand breast tissue collection because some women are skeptical of participating,” Kazner said.

Kazner said there's very little pain.

“It's like the feeling you have when you give blood, just a little prick – and after donating, you have a knowing for the future, in some way, you may be part of the finding of a cure not only for breast cancer but for all cancers.”

Kazner said she donated the breast tissue and then attended a concert that evening with her traveling companions and returned back to Orange County the next day, feeling great.

The Komen Tissue Bank is the only repository in the world for normal breast tissue and matched serum, plasma, and DNA and as such is continuing its commitment to studying "normal" tissue with the ultimate goal of curing breast cancer.

By studying normal tissue, research can be accelerated for the causes and prevention of breast cancer and so to more deeply understand the evolution of the disease, it's necessary to compare abnormal, cancerous tissue against normal, healthy tissue.

KTB is committed to making a difference by acting as advocates for thinking, sharing and understanding just what “normal” is.

Kazner's visit to the Komen tissue bank was to get a better understanding of just what's involved with the tissue donation process so she can advocate for participation in the local Orange County drive, coming up Saturday, Nov. 2, in partnership with MemorialCare Medical Group, 250 E. Yale Loop, in Irvine; made possible by a grant from The Allergan Foundation.

In order to donate breast tissue, women must be pre-registered through the Komen Tissue Bank website at

The event is set from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., for donors, with each donation lasting approximately 90 minutes; the process is described as quick and relatively painless by tissue bank representatives.

For anyone wishing to donate their time to help, there are two shifts from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

To participate as a donor, individuals must be a women at least 18 years of age and not allergic to local anesthetic, not be receiving a therapeutic blood thinner nor have breast implants.

The drive has a unique focus on women of diverse ethnic backgrounds and so in coming to Orange County. It hopes to expand its samples to more adequately represent the global community.

The goal is to recruit at least 150 women of Asian, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, African American and Latina descent, as these groups are underrepresented in the more than 3,000 tissue samples acquired thus far and will be used by medical scientists around the world to advance breast cancer research and find a cure.

This is the first-ever Susan G. Komen West Coast Healthy Breast Tissue Collection and organizers are hoping to encourage women of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds to support the ground-breaking breast cancer research.

“Because of Orange County’s diverse population, and strong support we’ve received for previous endeavors, we’re confident this initiative will be a success and hope women from all backgrounds who have been touched by a loved one’s battle with breast cancer will consider donating a sample,” said Komen Orange County Executive Director Lisa Wolter.

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Tissue Bank at Indiana University Simon Cancer Center was created after identifying a serious deficit in the area of healthy breast tissue research.

“By bringing the initiative to Orange County, the Komen Tissue Bank hopes to diversify its current samples, which represent a primarily Caucasian donor pool, to more adequately represent the global population,” Wolter said.

For information about Susan G. Komen Orange County, visit or call 714-957-9157.


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