Voices of Impact – Tracy Bunch
Tracy Bunch, Ashburn, VA – Survivor
“The phone rang and it was my doctor saying, ‘I’m so sorry but you have breast cancer.’ At 38 years of age with no family history or even the knowledge of any other person in my life who had been diagnosed, I felt lost, confused and very frightened.”
“So today, I also hope to be a beacon of hope by educating women about triple negative breast cancer, which is an aggressive form of breast cancer that strikes just 15 percent of women diagnosed with the disease.”
My name is Tracy Bunch and I am a 12-year triple negative breast cancer survivor. It was in the spring of 1998 that I first became acquainted with Susan G. Komen for the Cure. I was president of my local graduate sorority chapter, Lambda Kappa Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and we were in search of a great volunteer opportunity. We decided to join with the Komen Race for the Cure by helping with race pre-registration at the local Whole Foods store and then walking as a team the day of the event. At the walk I was overwhelmed by the large number of people who were there to support, encourage and remember loved ones who had won and lost the battle against breast cancer. I remember thinking if I ever got cancer this would be the type of organization that I would want on my side.
Move forward to December 21, 2001. The phone rang and it was my doctor saying, “I’m so sorry but you have breast cancer.” At 38 years of age with no family history or even the knowledge of any other person in my life who had been diagnosed, I felt lost, confused and very frightened. I turned immediately to the Komen website for information about breast cancer. The website helped me to better understand the disease and became a great resource as I moved through my surgery, chemo and radiation. I was able to learn about the drugs that I was given and how to manage the side effects that I experienced.
So today, I also hope to be a beacon of hope by educating women about triple negative breast cancer - an aggressive form of breast cancer that strikes just 15 percent of women diagnosed with the disease. It is more prevalent in women of African descent, and also in women under 40. I do this through my involvement with the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation, an organization devoted entirely to supporting the triple negative breast cancer community through programs and research investment.
I am so pleased that the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation has partnered with Komen to co-fund a Promise Grant supporting a research project to develop new targeted therapies to treat triple negative breast cancer. In fact, Komen has spent more than $90 million in research to find treatments for triple negative breast cancer, but the support goes further – to programs that educate and help women, like me, who need help through their diagnosis. Komen is also helping to raise awareness of triple negative disease, and – as a Champion for the TNBC Foundation’s inaugural Triple Negative Breast Cancer Awareness Day on 3.3.13 – this is something that is important to me and further demonstrates Komen’s desire to do what is necessary to help the women it serves.
Flash back to 2012. I walked again in the Komen Race for the Cure, but this time as a survivor, and it was my most memorable Komen moment. It was a rainy day, but it did not stop the spirit of hope that I felt on that day. I wore my pink shirt with pride as I walked with my “sisters” and thousands of others touched by this disease. I remember the feeling of fellowship, pride and gratitude for the Komen organization, for being that beacon of hope for so many women just like me.
The work that Komen does truly makes a difference in the lives of families touched by this disease. May God continue to bless this organization as they lead the way to the Cure.
Learn more about Tracy’s disease:
Visit the TNBC Foundation website and learn about the inaugural Triple Negative Breast Cancer Day on 3.3.13.
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 for the Cure and launched the global breast cancer movement. Today, Komen for the Cure 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.