Reflecting on 2012 and Setting the Stage for the Future

What an incredible and challenging year we have had as an organization and as a family. At Susan G. Komen for the Cure, there truly are so many things to celebrate, and reflect upon, this holiday season.

Our mission to end breast cancer, forever, started with the promise I made to my dying sister, Susan G. Komen, to end the disease that claimed her life too early. We opened our doors in 1982, and as we observed our 30th anniversary this year, I can only marvel at how much has been accomplished by the women and men who work tirelessly with us to save lives today, and end this disease for our sisters, daughters and granddaughters tomorrow.

Death rates from breast cancer have dropped by more than 30 percent in just the last 20 years – attributable in some part to the $750 million that Komen has invested in breast cancer research since our very first year (more than any other nonprofit and second only to the U.S. government).  Our knowledge about breast cancer has grown exponentially and along with it, our ability to develop treatments that are allowing so many women to live longer, with a better quality of life and more options than were possible when Suzy was diagnosed.  At a recent gathering of the world’s researchers in San Antonio, most of them funded during their careers by Komen research dollars, we learned of even more breakthroughs that will vastly improve treatment and survivability today, and into the future.

But cures will not come in the labs alone.  They come when we can reach every woman and man who needs us, and provide the tools that they need to detect, treat and become long-term survivors of breast cancer.  From our very first day, we have been out in our communities, talking, educating, and most importantly, raising and providing the funds for real-time help: getting women and men into screening and treatment, and paying for wigs, prosthetics, groceries, living expenses, and follow-up medical and emotional support.  We’ve invested more than $1.3 billion to these programs, all around the world. And for so many, Susan G. Komen for the Cure has been a vital, and perhaps the only, lifeline for people facing this disease.

The holiday season is always a time to reflect on the past year and make resolutions for the next.  This has been in many ways a difficult year for all of us, but it cannot and will not deter us from doing all that we can to end this disease.

We must find cures for the aggressive and metastatic forms of breast cancer that will claim almost 40,000 lives in the U.S. today.  This we are resolved to do through our research program, which seeks treatments from the labs to the patient within the decade.

We must also be out in higher numbers in our communities to reach the most vulnerable women who need our help the most, which we are doing and continuing to do through our Affiliate Network and their unique ability to help the women who might live right next door.

We must find ways to not just treat, but prevent, breast cancer in the first place, which we are doing through our research program and programs to help women understand their risk.

Our resolution each year is to do all that we can to advance the science and help the people who need us.  We will be back at the first of the year more determined than ever to achieve those goals.

Our friends and supporters make this work possible, and I cannot end the year without telling all of you how grateful we are for all of you who work alongside us to save the lives of millions. Please have a peaceful and joyous holiday season.

About the author

Nancy G. Brinker has written 27 articles for Susan G. Komen® | Blog

Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker founded Susan G. Komen on a promise she made to her sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer. She led a relentless breast cancer information and awareness campaign and succeeded in breaching the silence surrounding the disease, fundamentally changing the way it is talked about and treated. She started the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure® and also pioneered cause-related marketing, both of which have had a profound impact on the breast cancer movement. An outspoken champion of all people with breast cancer as well as those who are at risk for developing the disease, Ambassador Brinker takes her cause and her passion all over the world, seeking the fresh input and international partnerships essential to ending breast cancer forever. Among her many leadership roles, Brinker served as U.S. Ambassador to Hungary from 2001-2003 and as U.S. Chief of Protocol from 2007-2009.