In 1977, Susan Goodman Komen received the devastating news that would change her life forever: she was suffering from breast cancer. Those two words are enough to strike fear and sadness into the hearts of any woman, but none more so than her younger sister, Nancy Goodman Brinker. Susan passed three years after her diagnosis, and Nancy vowed to do everything within her power to prevent others from suffering a similar tragedy. Nancy firmly believed that with increased awareness, research, and support for breast cancer patients, this horrible disease could be stopped in its tracks. Therefore, in 1982, born out of a love for her sister and the strength of her convictions, Nancy founded the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
Fast forward 25 years to 2008, and Susan G. Komen is something of a household name. Now we all know someone who participates in or benefits from the efforts of this organization. Most recognizable is the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Since its humble beginnings in Dallas, Texas in 1983 with 800 participants, the now annual 5K has spread across the globe to over nine countries with more than one million participants. The Race for the Cure is the largest fundraising campaign for breast cancer in the world, and it continues to grow every year.
Because of the efforts of Nancy Goodman Brinker, breast cancer is no longer an unstoppable force ruling over our lives from the shadows of misunderstanding and a lack of awareness. Instead, breast cancer is something we openly discuss, something we refuse to let control our lives. With this openness, breast cancer loses its power, and everyday, more and more women, and even men, stare bravely into its face, knowing they are backed by an army of supporters, all walking, donating or running in unity.
We all recognize that signature pink ribbon. We all, in some capacity, feel the hurt brought on by breast cancer, whether through our own struggles, our family’s, our friend’s or through our fellow women and men. When we think of all the pink outs, all the races and all the sorority philanthropy initiatives, it is important to remember that so much of our progress stemmed from the promise of one young woman, a promise that no one should ever feel the pain and suffering of her sister and her family because of breast cancer. Nancy Goodman Brinker kept her promise. Her foundation has raised over $800 million toward breast cancer research alone, not to mention toward breast cancer advocacy and awareness. But more than that, her efforts have made breast cancer not something to suffer through in shame but something to confront and fight head-on.
So from the bottom of my heart, thank you Nancy Goodman Brinker for your drive, for your convictions and for your love.
Learn more about Susan G. Komen and the Race for the Cure here!