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For the last several years, Desert Times and our fellow Tucson Local Media publications have put a special focus on the battle against breast cancer in October. It’s the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in Arizona, with Brittney Conklin of the American Cancer Society estimating that more than 5,600 Arizonans will be diagnosed with the disease and that roughly 900 people will die. Almost everyone knows someone who has been touched by it.

In our special section this week, contributor Emily Dieckman looks at how some women are choosing to have faux nipples tattooed on their reconstructed breasts after surgery, while staff reporter Nicole Ludden explores how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected cancer treatments and screenings.

Ludden, by the way, is just joining our team here at Tucson Local Media. She comes to us after graduating summa cum laude from ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism earlier this year. During her college years, Ludden worked as a features reporter and fact-checker at the Arizona Republic, an investigative reporter with the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism and a borderlands reporter for Cronkite News, among other accomplishments. While working on her high school newspaper, Ludden “fell in love with being able to write for others by amplifying their voices through my journalism.” We can’t wait to see what she does for us. 

We are also bidding farewell to staff reporter Kathleen B. Kunz, who is leaving us to explore a possible career in the legal field. Kunz came on board with us while she was still a senior at the UA School of Journalism after we were impressed with the work she did as an intern. She’s covered cops, education, evictions, local government and a whole lot more in the two years she’s been with Tucson Local Media. We wish her the best of luck as she sets out on her next adventure.

Elsewhere in Desert Times this week, associate editor Jeff Gardner fills in you in on the latest news about OSIRIS-REx, the NASA spacecraft whose mission is being led by a team here at the University of Arizona. Later this month, OSIRIS-REx will attempt the crucial part of its mission: Capturing a sample from the asteroid Bennu. It’s been more than four years since OSIRIS-REx set out for Bennu, so it’s a moment long in the making.

Gardner also shares details about this year’s lousy monsoon season; managing editor Austin Counts looks at how Marana Police Chief Terry Rozema is asking people to stop harassing a local Jack in the Box; University of Arizona Journalism School intern Quinn McVeigh looks at how the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind is handling virtual learning during the pandemic; and there’s plenty else in our book, so dig in and read all about it.

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