Blaine Trump (above, left) and Kinga Lampert are powerful fundraisers who are making a difference in Miami and around the world. And since they both have homes in the Miami area, we thought it’d be cool if they interviewed each other for our South Florida issue that’s on the newsstands now. And we were right!
Kinga is on the board of The Breast Cancer Research Foundation that’s committed to achieving prevention and a cure for breast cancer. It provides critical funding for cancer research worldwide to fuel advances in tumor biology, genetics, prevention, treatment, metastasis and survivorship. Since its founding in 1993 by Evelyn Lauder, BCRF has raised more than half a billion dollars for lifesaving research. This year alone, BCRF will award $59.5 million in annual grants to more than 275 scientists from top universities and medical institutions around the globe. BCRF is the highest rated breast cancer organization in the US.
Blaine is on the board of God’s Love We Deliver (GLWD) that works to improve the health and well-being of men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other serious illnesses by alleviating hunger and malnutrition. GLWD prepares and deliver nutritious, high-quality meals to people who, because of their illness, are unable to provide or prepare meals for themselves. GLWD also provides illness-specific nutrition education and counseling to clients, families, care providers and other service organizations.
Blaine’s interview of Kinga is here. Kinga’s interview with Blaine is in Part 2!
Blaine: How long have you been involved with BCRF?
Kinga: I joined the Board of BCRF about 12 years ago, and became co-chairman of the Board 4 years ago. I am very passionate about the mission of BCRF and very dedicated to fighting for a cure for breast cancer. It is a disease that touches most of us, whether directly or indirectly, as 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
Blaine: BCRF holds events all across the country, so you must travel a lot?
Kinga: We have fundraising and awareness events in many cities in the US and in the UK as well. We have our biggest gala in New York City every spring, the Hot Pink Party, and a Luncheon and Symposium in the fall which most of our 275 scientists attend. We have several events in Boston, in the Hamptons and Los Angeles – and here in South Florida every February we hold a Luncheon and Symposium in Palm Beach. It is a great event and an opportunity to learn and hear from a panel of our scientists. I do travel a lot and attend many of our events every year, it is a wonderful opportunity for me to speak about the work of BCRF and connect with our donors and supporters.
Blaine: Can you give me an example of a great breakthrough that was funded by BCRF?
Kinga: Since 1993, BCRF-funded scientists have been part of every major breakthrough in breast cancer research – and this year alone, we have seen tremendous progress. Just last month, thanks to the groundbreaking TAILORx study, researchers reported that 70 percent of women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancers who carry the estrogen receptor can forgo chemotherapy. This news is game changing for about 60,000 women each year!
Another great example is BCRF-supported scientist Dr. Mary Claire King who identified the BRCA1 mutation. That key discovery has led to numerous others and has made an immeasurable impact for millions of women. Earlier this year, the FDA granted approval for a targeted therapy call Lynparza for advanced breast cancers caused by mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. This is a critical breakthrough and more than 20 BCRF researchers were involved in the development, testing and clinical trials that led to this approval.
Blaine: How far has breast cancer awareness come since the founding of BCRF?
Kinga: One year before BCRF was founded by the late Evelyn Lauder, she co-created the now iconic pink ribbon, at a time when breast cancer inspired much more fear than hope, and it was not discussed – in public or private. Evelyn was committed to changing that. The program she created distributed ribbons along with self-exam instruction cards at Estée Lauder counters across the United States and around the world, helping to raise awareness about the importance of breast health and effectively placing breast cancer at the public forefront. Today, 25 years later, the world is very much aware of the disease. And now the focus is on finding a cure – a goal that can only be realized through research advancements.
Blaine: Isn’t it amazing though with all the billions of dollars going into research, there’s still not a cure?
Kinga: Twenty-five years ago, we treated every breast cancer as if they were all the same. Some women did well, but a lot of them did not. Because of research supported by BCRF, we have learned that breast cancer is not a single disease, but many, and that each individual’s breast cancer is unique to her or him. Since BCRF’s founding in 1993, advancements in early detection and therapy have resulted in a nearly 40 percent decrease in breast cancer deaths!
We have come incredibly far and many breast cancers are successfully treated; but doctors still cannot tell a woman definitively that she is cured, because we still don’t understand why breast cancers recur many years later. BCRF researchers are determined to answer this question and understand the process called metastasis, which is the main cause of death for women with breast cancer.
Until we can tell a woman she is cured, we cannot stop the important work in understanding tumor dormancy, drug resistance or metastasis.
Blaine: Tell me about any discoveries or updates in the area of prevention.
Kinga: Thanks to research we know that healthy lifestyles early in life can reduce the risk of breast cancer later in life. Experts estimate that up to 50 percent of breast cancers could be prevented with lifestyle changes.
BCRF scientists have shown that poor lifestyle habits such as lack of exercise, being overweight or obese, diets high in animal fat and low in fruit and vegetables as well as alcohol consumption begin early in life, during puberty and adolescence. Their findings highlight the importance of early intervention by making sure children get regular exercise, understand the importance of diet in maintaining a healthy weight and limit or abstain from alcohol.
There have also been advances in understanding the link behind body fat and breast cancer risk. BCRF scientists have uncovered a connection between fat tissue, inflammation and aromatase production that may explain the increased risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women who are overweight or obese. These studies not only uncover the reason behind the risk, but also help researchers identify strategies to intervene.
This same research led to the discovery that as much as 30 percent of healthy weight women may also be at risk because due to increased body fat in relation to lean tissue, such as muscle. While the results are preliminary, their work suggests monitoring body composition is a more accurate way to keep tabs on one’s health risks than the BMI measurement.
Blaine: Is it possible to identify areas in the world or the US where there are more incidences of breast cancer?
Kinga: According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer incidence rates vary, but it is the most common cancer in women worldwide and the most common cause of cancer deaths in developing countries. Breast cancer survival rates are highest (over 80%) in the U.S. and other modern countries and lowest (less than 40%) in the developing world.
In the U.S., the incidence of breast cancer in white women has been relatively stable over the last two decades. The incidence in black women has increased and is now similar to that in white women, but the disparity in cancer mortality across race and ethnicity continues to be a public health challenge.
Blaine: Women diagnosed with breast cancer are living longer, can you tell me about survival rates? Tell me about your work in the area of metastasis. What is metastatic breast cancer?
Kinga: Survival rates have dramatically improved in the last two decades and more and more women are living healthy lives after a breast cancer diagnosis. However, while we’ve done a great job at treating primary breast cancer, once breast cancer has spread to other organs, it is incurable. Known as metastatic breast cancer, this form of the disease is terminal, yet many women are living years or even decades thanks to new drugs and combination approaches. Those with metastatic disease will be on therapy for the rest of her or his life, until we find a cure for this deadly disease.
The only way to save lives is by supporting metastatic breast cancer research. That’s why BCRF pioneered the world’s largest privately funded research project on metastasis, where we have committed $31 million to date to metastatic breast cancer research. This major initiative, called AURORA, is already under way, and we have two teams in both Europe and the U.S. that have started research to shed light on why some breast cancers spread while others do not. In addition, one third of our annual grants this year are focused on metastasis. And we serve as the home of the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance, whose single mission is to accelerate research and develop new treatments.