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The Progress Report Progress never stops. Stay informed with the latest news on breast cancer research, treatment, and prevention.

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Research is the reason x

Portrait of Melissa with the words Research is the Reason on the image

At just 32 years old—six weeks after giving birth to her daughter, Poppy—Melissa Thompson was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer.

John Keatley photographs Melissa Thompson and her daughter, Poppy, via FaceTime

Each year, BCRF features stories from real people impacted by breast cancer as part of our annual storytelling initiative, Research Is the Reason.

Portrait of Gladys Bettis, mom of Jerome Bettis, photographed via Facetime

Six years ago, when Gladys Bettis found out the lump in her right breast was malignant, her first thought was: I can’t tell my children.

Portrait of Jerome Bettis, photographed on FaceTime

From his high school stadium to the 2006 Super Bowl championship, one person has been in the stands for every single football game Jerome Bettis has played: his mom, Gladys.

Portrait of Mandy Gonzalez

At an annual exam last spring, Broadway star Mandy Gonzalez (Hamilton, In The Heights) was asked a question many women have heard: Now that she was in her 40s, would she like to start getting annual mammograms?

portrait of valencia

Valencia is no stranger to breast cancer. For more than a decade she has worked as a medical assistant at an oncology office supporting people as they undergo treatment.

A portrait of Len, who was diagnosed with male breast cancer

A cancer scare six years ago led Len to be vigilant about his health. So, when he felt a sharp pain in his chest, he immediately went to his doctor. A biopsy revealed it was stage II breast cancer.

“I thought I was going to die,” he said, remembering his initial reaction.

Every year Ouidad—a renowned hair stylist who created a company that bears her name—gets a mammogram around the time of her birthday. It’s a routine rooted in loss. Her mother died of metastatic breast cancer when Ouidad was 25 years old.

Tracy McNeal remembers the morning clearly. The mother of three woke up and felt a pea-sized lump on her breast. She decided to have it checked out immediately.

When Valorie Kondos Field learned she had breast cancer, one of her first thoughts was her students. As the former head coach of the UCLA Gymnastics Team, she wanted to use her experience to educate others.