It was 1977 when a family crisis revealed the calling on her life. Nancy’s older sister, Susan G. Komen, had been diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a different time then. People didn’t understand breast cancer, much less talk about it in public. Some thought it was contagious, others a shame. The medical community offered limited treatment options, and most patients had neither the resources or research to make informed decisions about their care.
Nancy was by Susie’s side for three years of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Near the end of her life, Susie asked Nancy to make a promise – do everything you can to stop this dreadful disease, get rid of the stigma, and make sure no woman has to go through this alone. Nancy made that promise, and has dedicated the rest of her life to making good on it.
Two years after Susie’s death Nancy founded Susan G Komen for the Cure, the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating breast cancer. Nancy’s goal was to address the needs of breast cancer patients today, while sowing seeds for a brighter tomorrow. That’s why in the last 30 years, Komen has invested more than $2 billion in breast cancer research, education, screening and treatment. To date, nearly every major advancement in breast cancer research has been touched by a Komen grant.
Nancy has dedicated her life to fulfilling her promise. Although she stepped away for a time to serve as United States Ambassador to Hungary and President George W. Bush’s White House Chief of Protocol, the work continued. What started as one woman’s promise became the rallying cry of a global community.
Young women today cannot imagine a world where the words “breast cancer” are not said in public. For that, they can thank Nancy G. Brinker. It was her vision of a world without breast cancer that galvanized millions of women around the world to not just be aware, but to take action. That’s why we’re delighted to include her on our list of Women Who Dare, for boldly taking on the impossible and believing that it can be done!
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