Wishing You a Happy Thanksgiving
It’s hard to believe that it’s already Thanksgiving. The past two and a half months since I joined Susan G. Komen as president and CEO have been nothing short of a whirlwind.
A few weeks after I officially came on board, the country turned pink as we kicked off National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s an important time of year for our breast cancer mission. The pink cleats, pink supermarket products, Komen Races, and even the pink airplanes do more than raise awareness; they help to raise the funds that make it possible for Komen to fund more breast cancer research than any other nonprofit (at $800 million since inception, second only to the federal government). They also make it possible to serve hundreds of thousands of low-income, uninsured and medically underserved women and men across our nation and around the world. When there are gripes about “too much pink,” remember that pink makes it all possible!
Each day, about 1,000 women will get a free mammogram, thanks to the funds you raise to support our screening programs. Another 136 will get some form of financial or psychosocial support in our communities, thanks to your support of our community health programs nationwide. Some of our Affiliates will help to put groceries on the table for a woman undergoing treatment. Others will pay for transportation to treatment. Others will pay insurance co-pays and even for surgeries for those who don’t have insurance and don’t qualify for Medicaid or other government programs. Komen helps to fill those gaps for tens of thousands of women every year.
Today, Komen-funded research is being conducted in 500 laboratories and health systems around the world because you’ve helped us to raise the funds to make that research possible. We’re looking for new and better treatments, ways to detect breast cancer before symptoms appear, and ways to prevent this disease all together.
Since this is the time of the year that we give thanks, I wanted all of you to know thankful I am for all that you do – for donating, volunteering, walking or running to help the 2.9 million women (and men) who are surviving breast cancer today – and the 230,000 who will be diagnosed in the U.S. over the next year.
I’ve spent the last two months taking a deeper dive into what it truly means to be the world’s largest breast cancer organization – visiting our Affiliates, meeting with our scientific and other advisory boards, partners and volunteers. We should be thankful for the talent and dedication of the Komen team. Our staff, donors, volunteers and partners are truly committed to our mission. Our scientific advisory panels and community partners are among the best and the brightest in the cancer community, and they are eager – just as we are – to find the cures.
So tomorrow, as many of us gather with family and friends to give thanks, please know how grateful I am for your unwavering support over the past 31 years. I will give thanks for becoming part of the Komen family.
And speaking from my own heart, I want to thank all of you for welcoming me so warmly into the Komen family.
About the author
Judith A. Salerno, M.D., M.S., is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Susan G. Komen®, responsible for the day-to-day operation of the organization and for setting Komen’s strategic vision. Dr. Salerno brings extensive experience in research, public health policy and community health to the role. Before joining Komen, she was the Leonard D. Schaeffer Executive Officer of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies, serving as executive director and chief operating officer of the Institute.