In 1977 Susan Komen was diagnosed with breast cancer and her sister Nancy promised her she would help change the odds on that frightening disease, so more women would know how to discover it, fight it, and avoid its death sentence. Susan died in 1980 at age 36 and in 1982 Nancy Brinker founded the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, launching a global movement against breast cancer in the process. The foundation created successful public-awareness campaigns that increased early detection (including regularization of mammograms for women over 40) and sharply raised research budgets. From its first event in Dallas with 800 female runners, Komen’s signature “Races for the Cure” now mobilize more than a million participants each year, and have invested $2.6 billion (as of 2015) in the foundation’s education and research efforts. Since 1980, the five-year survival rate for women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer has increased from 74 percent to 98 percent, and total breast-cancer mortality in the U.S. is down by more than a third.
- 2011 interview with Nancy Brinker in Philanthropy magazine, philanthropyroundtable.org/topic/excellence_in_philanthropy/racing_for_the_cure
- About Komen, ww5.komen.org/AboutUs/AboutUs.html