31 Days of Impact – Day 20, Dr. Beverly Laird
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.
BEVERLY LAIRD, PhD, ALABAMA– Breast Cancer Survivor and Advocate
“Komen Advocates in Science are taking strides to bring to the forefront patient issues that inevitably can help us understand breast cancer better – on a community, science and systematic level.”
“As a breast cancer survivor, I am so grateful to help other women find local resources to assist in their own fight with this disease.”
I was only 39 years old when I was diagnosed with breast cancer; I had no idea what was going to happen, but I knew I had the support of a wonderful husband. I was mostly worried about our three young children and just wanted to live to see them grow up.
Not knowing a lot about breast cancer or what it meant for a young woman like me, I started talking to other women fighting this disease in my community. One lady had a shop that sold wigs, breast forms and other products; we started talking and she asked me to come with her to Brookwood Hospital to hear a woman speak about breast cancer. I agreed and from that day forward I was involved with Komen. That woman was Nancy Brinker.
I felt empowered to make a difference for all the other women battling breast cancer, and with two other survivors, I began work that would become the Susan G. Komen for the Cure North Central Alabama Affiliate. Over the years I’ve served on the board and continue to be involved.Often I will meet with various researchers to keep the Affiliate connected to what is happening in the scientific community locally. I also have a special place in my heart for those who are diagnosed young, and there are three or four women right now that I consider my “breast cancer daughters.” All were diagnosed in their 20’s and I do whatever I can to help them.
Having breast cancer also inspired me to go back to school – something I’d always wanted to do – and I earned a doctorate in public health; my dissertation research focused on the essential components of psychosocial care for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients.This expertise and my passion for advocacy have allowed me to be a part of so many terrific programs. I am the co-founder of the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Young Survivors’ Group in Birmingham and have been a coordinator and trainer for Reach to Recover (RTR). I have been honored to serve on the National Cancer Institute’s Director’s Consumer Liaison Group, making sure that funding was available and was directed in ways that are meaningful to real patients.
This past May, I spoke on behalf of the Komen Advocates in Science, as well as breast cancer patients, survivors, and co-survivors at the Inaugural FDA Patient Network Annual Meeting in Silver Spring, MD. I addressed the value that patient perspectives provide for scientific dialogue, the critical step to understand the disease on a patient’s whole lifestyle, as well as the patient perception and evaluation of risks associated with medical treatment.
Having breast cancer has opened a lot of doors to me to help better women’s health and our world at large – one day we will be free of this disease.
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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.