31 Days of Impact – Day 11, Jeff Bennett
The story of breast cancer is the story of people. Learn about Komen’s impact and work in the fight against breast cancer as told through the eyes of breast cancer survivors, researchers, community health workers and advocates. Read more stories.
“Breast cancer knows no limits.”
“Those of us who survive cancer should help others do the same.”
“It’s time to realize that cancer is destructive and cruel. Every day, we lose 1,500 people in this country alone. Simply put – enough is enough. It’s time to make a change.”
I had just finished playing golf with friends in July 2003 when I noticed something different with my chest. After not getting better for a few days, I scheduled an appointment with my doctor who recommended an ultrasound and mammogram. It was the biopsy and weeks of waiting when I knew something was not right – my doctor broke the news I never expected: “You have cancer.” I was stunned. Young, healthy, athletic, no family history; it made no sense. I was diagnosed with aggressive stage II breast cancer. My diagnosis was to say the least – unlikely.
A team of doctors, scans, tests, more scans, more tests, surgeries, more surgeries, and chemotherapy treatments all come at you in a blur. Then 4-month follow-up visits for as far as you can see. I learned two things: that cancer knows no limits and I am one of the lucky ones. I’m lucky that I advocated for myself to get checked, lucky that I had access to quality care, and lucky that I had good health insurance. Sadly this is not the case for everyone.
I immediately knew that I needed to become a breast cancer activist; I felt the “obligation of the cured” – the idea that those of us who survive cancer should help others do the same. I’ve turned to a lot of places to start to give back and one of the most important is through advocacy. Our voices are powerful and need to be heard.
I started as a volunteer for breast cancer awareness by helping to organize the local Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Bangor, Maine. I’m also a board member for Komen Maine and their Public Policy Chair – I want to ensure that I have a stake at making a true difference in how cancer is treated in this country, and Komen allows me to do that.
One of the other impactful things that I do is speak to groups of people about my experience, letting both men and women know that this could happen to them and it’s time to take the issue of cancer seriously. It’s time to realize that cancer is destructive and cruel. Every day, we lose 1,500 people in this country alone. Simply put – enough is enough. It’s time to make a change. Whether it’s raising public awareness, raising money, initiating projects or demanding leadership accountability, together we can make a difference. I urge men to get regular physicals so they understand their health and women to get screened every year. Join the Fight – advocate!
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About the author
Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. In 1982, that promise became Susan G. Komen and launched the global breast cancer movement. Today, Komen is the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. Thanks to events like the Komen Race for the Cure®, we have invested more than $1.9 billion to fulfill our promise, becoming the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world.