‘Susan G. Komen for the Cure’ is the world’s leading breast cancer advocacy organisation, established by Nancy Goodman Brinker in 1982, after the death of her sister Susan Goodman Komen from breast cancer.
Before Susan died in 1980, she asked Nancy to promise her something. Susan’s final words to her sister were, “We have to do something. Breast cancer has to be talked about so women don’t die. Promise me you’ll make it change.” (Promise Me by Nancy Brinker, p147).
|Sisters Susan Goodman Komen and Nancy Goodman Brinker|
That day, Nancy, who comes from a line of strong, service-oriented women, promised to change the perception and understanding of breast cancer. In 1982, she founded the ‘Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation’ with $200. Twenty-seven years later, Nancy, now a breast cancer survivor herself, is regarded as the leader of the global breast cancer awareness movement. Her organisation was renamed ‘Susan G. Komen for the Cure’ and grew into the empire it is today, having raised over $2 billion for breast cancer causes and expanded its influence to over 50 countries, including third-world nations.
Many people today would not fully understand the significance of the work of ‘Komen for the Cure’. Prior to the establishment of SGK, understanding and medical knowledge of breast cancer was limited. People were unaware of how to detect the disease, mammograms almost unheard of, and there was little understanding of treatment options. It was also considered impolite to speak of breast cancer in the company of others, and many women did not even share their diagnosis. Nancy promised Susan to challenge these norms, and has done so successfully.
Now, thanks to Nancy’s work and ‘Komen for the Cure’, both women and men are advised about breast cancer prevention, detection and treatment. Knowledge about the disease has significantly increased, virtually every major advance in breast cancer research, including the discovery of the ‘breast cancer genes’, having been influenced by SGK funding. Not a day goes by when the disease isn’t discussed and money and awareness about breast cancer isn’t raised. Importantly, there is now no shame in being diagnosed with breast cancer.
The achievements of ‘Komen for the Cure’ would not have been possible without Nancy’s innovative ideas. Consider the pink-loop ribbons that are today synonymous with breast cancer. Nancy pioneered this iconic symbol, at a ‘Susan G Komen Race for the Cure’ marathon.
Nancy also initiated cause-related marketing, being the first person to partner with companies to raise awareness about specific causes. The pink ribbons and ‘pink products’ with which we are all so familiar would not exist without Nancy.
Although 'Komen for the Cure' has experienced controversy over the years, Nancy Brinker remains determined to end the disease that killed her sister. She also does not crave to receive full credit for her work; there have been instances where other companies, including Estee Lauder, have taken credit for her ideas, but Nancy did not care as long as they were raising awareness about breast cancer. Her greatest hope is to see the day SGK is no longer needed, as breast cancer will have been eradicated.
As you can see, 'Komen for the Cure' is an inspirational organisation that has transformed the global approach to breast cancer. I truly appreciate the work Nancy Brinker has done to raise breast cancer awareness, and am inspired by the success of SGK.
I also certainly recommend reading Nancy's book 'Promise Me'; it is a great read and truly inspirational.