Indy’s Super Cure – Komen Tissue Bank Collection
Guest post from Kendall Bergman, Program Manager, Scientific Programs at Susan G. Komen for the Cure
After managing Komen’s grant to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure® Tissue Bank at IU Simon Cancer Center beginning in 2007 with an initial award of $1M and increasing to $7M to date, I have to confess I feel at a loss for words to accurately and effectively describe to you my experience this past weekend as I attended, participated in and volunteered at the Komen Tissue Bank’s two day collection as part of its Super Cure activities leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, February 5. For a point of reference you might find it interesting to know that the tissue bank has never collected more than 150 core biopsies in one day. However, this weekend they lived up to the challenge of collecting close to 700 specimens over two days. More than 600 volunteers showed up, including surgeons, nurses, survivors, family members, women, men, and young people. During volunteer sign-up, the tissue bank staff had to let some of those interested know they weren’t needed. Women showed up to donate their tissue by the droves. I count myself lucky to be part of that donor crowd now. My normal tissue was taken on Saturday, January 28 and I honestly have to say it was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. I was emotional afterward and stayed pretty much on the verge of tears all day.
I wish you could have been there with me to see the volunteers walking the donors throughout the process beginning with the consent process, progressing to leaving a few vials of blood, and culminating with the actual tissue removal. I wish you could have seen the faces of the women as they walked out of the examining room to encounter a hall full of volunteers clapping and cheering for them. I wish you knew Sue Clare, Anna Maria Storniolo, Connie Rufenbarger, Jill Henry and the entire tissue bank staff. Their apparent limitless passion, energy and perseverance is inspiring, humbling and compelling. Over the past few days I continue to comprehend that one day it’s quite possible a scientist in Bosnia or Norway or Ghana may one day need a normal tissue specimen and will be able to access mine virtually…in order to complete his or her research and move all us closer to a world without breast cancer.
Tears immediately come to my eyes all over again and I find words don’t suffice. The experience was akin to summer camp. Remember what it’s like at the end of camp? You’ve gotten to know these other kids and the counselors and they’ve become this make-shift family that you don’t want to say good-bye to and at some level you know you’re never going to be the same again. This weekend in Indianapolis I became reconnected with old friends, made new friends and know that I am forever altered…for the better. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity afforded me through my work at Komen. As the saying goes, I wouldn’t trade my experience for all the tea in China.
To read more about the Komen Tissue Bank and our relationship with it, please visit here. For more information on the tissue bank’s relationship with the Super Bowl and all of the Super Cure activities, please visit here. To read about Indy’s Super Cure wrap-up the IU Simon Cancer Center Web site, please visit here.
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.