31 Days of Impact – Day 17, Cheryl Jernigan
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.
CHERYL JERNIGAN, KANSAS CITY – Breast Cancer Survivor, Advocate
“I’m blessed to be 16 years post-breast cancer; but how long will I be cancer free? No one really knows because we don’t have a cure and that’s why I walk and work with Komen. I want to put an end to breast cancer forever!”
“I’m not just a survivor, I’m a breast cancer ‘thriver’ – this unwanted journey continues to bless me with wonderful, rich relationships and opportunities. The friendships and opportunities to give back that Komen has provided are foremost among these.”
“We (the volunteers, researchers and staff of Susan G. Komen for the Cure) will not stop until we discover and deliver the cures. That’s our promise.”
From the day I was diagnosed, I have been blessed with amazing support from family, friends, caregivers, and many survivors who had started their journey before me. Komen continues to be a comprehensive avenue for me to honor that blessing by doing all I can to help the millions of other women and men who are facing or will face this disease.
When I was diagnosed, I was healthy and fit. I didn’t have breast cancer in my family. People would ask me in shock, “How did you get this?!” As women, our greatest risk factors for breast cancer are being female and growing older – not something we can do much about. Breast cancer doesn’t care about age, gender, socio-economic status or geographic location; all women are at risk, which is why I devote so much of my time to seeing its demise.
I am a founding board member of the Greater Kansas City Affiliate, a past board president and currently on the board as the Chair of Strategic Mission Committee. Nationally, I am a member of Komen’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) and Steering Committee for Advocates in Science. Since its inception, Komen has been an advocate-centered organization. Advocates (breast cancer survivors and co-survivors) have been integrated into all the facets of Komen, including the research program where advocates are asked to sit as colleagues at the table with researchers in reviewing grants and directing our research program. Advocates bring a sense of reality and urgency to the table, and assuring perspectives from the world of patients/survivors are a cornerstone and fully integrated into decisions at every step of the research process.
Komen has a multi-faceted approach…working in every arena needed to truly put an end to this disease from research to community engagement in educating and filling needed breast cancer service gaps at a local level to public policy that assures research funding and people’s access to effective breast health and cancer services. It’s our goal to discover and deliver the cures for breast cancer, while serving women and men who need our help today and tomorrow.
With Komen, I am helping make a difference in the research being funded, the public policies that affect our breast health and care, and the lives of those served by our Affiliate’s community grants program that funds needed screening, education, patient navigation and cancer support services. Every day more women are diagnosed with breast cancer…and despite the latest in treatment, more women still have to live with or fear a recurrence…every day more lives are lost to this disease – with Komen, one day we will see a world without breast cancer.
Read other impact stories.
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.