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  • 31 Days of Impact – Day 21, Mark Goldstein

    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.

    MARK GOLDSTEIN, NEW JERSEY– Breast Cancer Survivor, Conqueror and Advocate

    “Running amongst a sea of pink, survivors and supporters were surprised to see me running and I told them, “I’m just like you! I’ve gone through surgery, chemo and radiation, too!”

    “Susan G. Komen has given me the ability to reach thousands of men and women at Races around the country and the world to help and inspire them in their own breast cancer journey.”

    “Men should not die from breast cancer out of ignorance and it is my honor to help, educate and inspire my fellow fighters, survivors and conquerors.”

    I’ve dealt and overcome multiple episodes with skin cancer in my lifetime, yet in February, 1988, when I noticed something more unusual with my left nipple – it began pulling inward – in typical male fashion, I did nothing!  Only until three months had passed did I finally figure out that something other than skin cancer might be going on. I had breast cancer; I never thought I’d have to worry about breast cancer as a 55-year-old man.

    My mammogram results were inconclusive and after seeing three doctors locally, I proceeded to seek out a male breast cancer specialist in New York City. I can’t tell you how much empathy I felt for women.  She advised that I have the lump removed, rather than do a biopsy, so we went ahead with the surgery and I was hopeful that all would go smoothly. This was in May of 1988, and following the procedure I continued with my life mindful I still had a fight ahead but in no way, shape or form was I feeling defeated. In fact, the day I was discharged from the hospital, I made my first act of defiance, I mowed the lawn and throughout my entire course of treatment I never missed a day of work.

    In September of 1992, I came to the “Race for the Cure” by way of rejection. I signed up my family for the New York City Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. We arrived early that morning wearing our t-shirts and race numbers and to my disbelief, I was told that I couldn’t run because I was a man and the Race was “for women only!” Things have changed a lot since then – running amongst a female sea of pink, survivors and supporters were surprised to see me running and I told them, “I’m just like you! I went through surgery, chemo and radiation, too!” It was a real turning point for me and my family. Having never run any more than for a commuter train or in an airport terminal, I wanted to race in more Races, bring more awareness to men and the disease – and with Komen, as a Komen Ambassador to the Race for the Cure series, we’ve made this mission possible.

    I’m in the fourth quarter of my life and what better way to spend that, than to try to serve your fellow “man.” I’m a person of “faith.” I believe God has put me on this path, not pushing me, just gently nudging me along the way as opportunities arise.

    To date, I’ve run in 223 Races visiting Komen Race for the Cure events across the country and around the world to share my story and give a voice to other men fighting this disease. In 2003, I was named as one of the Yoplait 25 Champions for my contribution to breast cancer awareness and advocacy. In 2005, I was honored by Susan G. Komen and the National Distance Running Hall of Fame with the fourth annual Suzy Komen Award and featured as one of several runners in Runners World’s 2006 “Heroes of Running” issue.

    Men should not die from breast cancer out of ignorance and it is my honor to help, educate and inspire my fellow fighters, survivors and conquerors.

    Please visit my website and give me a hug at our next “Race for the Cure.”

     Read other impact stories.

  • 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.

    Read other impact stories.

  • 31 Days of Impact – Day 19, Michael Ziener

    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.

    MICHAEL ZIENER, CHICAGO – Co-Survivor and Advocate

    “It never ceases to amaze me how fierce the true fighting spirit of breast cancer survivors can be.  Sure, there are down days and down times, but this fight will be won.  There’s not a doubt in my mind.”

    “Cancer has claimed the lives of the people I loved most in this world, the people who gave me life.  For them, and for each person whose life has been crushed by this disease, I will work, walk, race, talk, give … do whatever it takes to help end breast cancer forever.”

    “We’re men, women, children, all fighting for a cause that’s so much bigger than we are, but still somehow defines us to our very core.”

    Being a man in a pink world is actually quite interesting; first of all, I sure have a lot of pink ties. As Executive Director of the Chicagoland Area Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, I also have a somewhat unique perspective on our organization and how we attack and approach this disease.  It’s not just a woman’s disease; it’s a man’s disease too, because there are about 2,300 or so cases of male breast cancer diagnosed each year.  But we men are also affected by the disease when we lose our wives, our daughters, our mothers, sisters and our friends.  This perspective is important.

    When I was nine years old, my mom passed away from breast cancer—she was only 39.  My dad walked into my room one day and said, “Son, I have to talk to you.”  I remember that I went into a sort of slow-motion state of shock.  I can remember the things that were on the countertop, the type of weather it was, and then my dad actually sitting there saying, “Mike, I just wanted to let you know that Mommy’s sickness … it really got a little bit more serious last night, and … she passed away.”

    Those words just changed how my life was going to be from that moment on.  My fight started right then, and it feels like breast cancer has been a part of my life ever since.  In my role as head of Chicago’s Komen affiliate, I get a chance to win the fight a little bit every single day.  It’s a win when I stand in front of 1,800 women at a conference sharing the story of what happened to my mother and it touches someone else. It’s a win when her story, her life, travels through my words and motivates someone in that crowd enough to go and get a mammogram.  That is my goal.

    The wins keep me going.  When we’re able to save a life, when our grants help a single mom on the south side of Chicago get her mammogram, or follow-up exam, or access to treatment if she’s diagnosed,  when that happens, I know—and my mom knows too—that we have made a difference. We’ve had an impact. We are winning the fight.

    From my point of view, we’re all fighters.  We’re fighting for ourselves, for our friends, for our parents, and for our communities.  I fight for my mother, and my mother’s mother, who died of breast cancer before I knew her.  I fight for my father’s mother who died of breast cancer before I knew her. And I fight in honor of my father, who battled five different cancers (two stage IV cancers of different types), who just last month lost his arduous battle with metastatic prostate cancer – 24 years battling this nasty disease after he lost his wife to cancer.  I am now 39 years old, the age my mother past away. In this year, I had to explain the very same message my father told me as a child to my 3 year old regarding his grandfather. I’m one man who will never give up the fight.

    View a day in the life of Michael Ziener and learn how the Komen Chicagoland Affiliate is fighting breast cancer.

    Read other impact stories.

     

  • New Standards in Breast Cancer Cause Marketing Programs

    Today, we joined the New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman to implement best practices in charitable cause marketing standards. Please join us in our excitement as these standards will give consumers better information and a clearer understanding of how their donations are supporting breast cancer research and community breast cancer programs.

    Cause marketing programs involve fundraising partnerships between charities and businesses that generate donations based on the purchase of a product or participation in a business partner’s cause marketing program. We partner annually with about 200 companies that help raise funds for our research programs, large-scale community health programs, advocacy and global work.  And our partners have helped us make significant progress against breast cancer, generating a large portion of the funds that have allowed us to invest more than $740 million in research and more than $1.3 billion in community health programs over our 30 years.

    We have always believed in providing clear and concise information for consumers who support breast cancer programs. To that end, we began working with Attorney General Schneiderman’s office in 2011 to develop the best practices announced today.

    We are proud to have worked in partnership since 2011 with Attorney General Schneiderman’s office to develop these standards and we applaud his leadership in developing best practices to guide cause marketing programs across all breast cancer organizations.

    The best practices are located on the New York Attorney General’s website.

    Susan G. Komen’s Five Questions Consumers Should Ask.

  • 31 Days of Impact – Day 18, Jack Anderson

    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.

    John (Jack) Anderson, Virginia – Co-Survivor, Author

    “Breast cancer calls for full-scale war. It’s game on, every morning, every night, ‘round the clock, every day, every week, every month, every year, for years to come.”

    “The battleground is her body, mind and spirit—as well as your body, mind and spirit.”

    “Once you enter Cancer Land there is no turning back, so buck up and start following your leader, your loved one; she is the one who presides over all things that happen in Cancer Land.”

    You’re a guy; and someone very close to you, right this minute, has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. Or maybe she’s undergoing treatment. Maybe she’s in remission. She could be your wife, your mother, your sister, your girlfriend, your daughter, grandmother, aunt, cousin, co-worker or a friend. But the reality is that the long arm of breast cancer has reached into your world, and a woman in your life, someone you love, needs YOU.  What the heck do you do?

    When my mom, Anne Anderson, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1978, I didn’t have a clue. To cope with what was happening, I started writing a book—a book that took twenty-one years to complete. During that time my wife, my sister and my mom’s best friend were also diagnosed.  And my mother lost the battle she so valiantly fought.

    The lack of resources for men, to help us understand how to process and talk with the women in our lives about breast cancer and breast health, struck me as profound.  My book Stand By Her became an answer.

    “I have breast cancer.”  “It’s malignant.”

    If you’re like most guys, hearing these words sends you into shock. You can’t breathe. You’re scared, mad, panicked— and it’s all happening at the same time.  Here are a few lessons that I hope will help you catch your breath as you navigate that first leg of the journey.

    Follow, Don’t Lead
    Everything that happens with regard to her treatment is up to her, not you. She is Commander-in-Chief of everything when it comes to breast cancer. So it is vital that you follow, not lead what happens.

    Just Listen
    Sometimes you need to stop talking and just listen to her. If she wants to laugh, laugh with her. If she wants to cry, comfort her and don’t minimize her fear. Watch for her emotions and follow where they lead.

    Laugh
    Laughter is the greatest healer of all. It will get her, and you, through the crazy times that she is going to face with her breast cancer treatment. One of the best things you can do for her is to make her laugh.

    Show Your Love
    Hold her, kiss her, hug her. Get her little gifts. Compliment her whenever you can. Make her feel good about herself as a woman.

    Thirty years ago, when Nancy Brinker promised her sister Susan G. Komen, who was dying from breast cancer, that she would do everything she could to find a way to put an end to this devastating disease, the world was a very different place. In the past three decades, the breast cancer movement has given birth to scientific research and lifesaving awareness that have definitely changed the game.  Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a time to mark how far we’ve come and to acknowledge the work that still needs to be done. I’m in the fight for the long haul, and if someone you love is diagnosed with breast cancer, I hope you will be too—and that you won’t be afraid to Stand By Her.

    Read other impact stories.