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  • 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.

    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.

  • 31 Days of Impact – Day 17, Cheryl Jernigan

    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.

    Updated 10/18/12

    CHERYL JERNIGAN, KANSAS CITY – Breast Cancer Survivor, Advocate

     “I’m blessed to be 16 years post-breast cancer; but how long will I be cancer free? No one really knows because we don’t have a cure and that’s why I walk and work with Komen. I want to put an end to breast cancer forever!”
    “I’m not just a survivor, I’m a breast cancer ‘thriver’ – this unwanted journey continues to bless me with wonderful, rich relationships and opportunities.  The friendships and opportunities to give back that Komen has provided are foremost among these.”
    “We (the volunteers, researchers and staff of Susan G. Komen for the Cure) will not stop until we discover and deliver the cures. That’s our promise.”

    From the day I was diagnosed, I have been blessed with amazing support from family, friends, caregivers, and many survivors who had started their journey before me. Komen continues to be a comprehensive avenue for me to honor that blessing by doing all I can to help the millions of other women and men who are facing or will face this disease.

    When I was diagnosed, I was healthy and fit. I didn’t have breast cancer in my family. People would ask me in shock, “How did you get this?!” As women, our greatest risk factors for breast cancer are being female and growing older – not something we can do much about.  Breast cancer doesn’t care about age, gender, socio-economic status or geographic location; all women are at risk, which is why I devote so much of my time to seeing its demise.

    I am a founding board member of the Greater Kansas City Affiliate, a past board president and currently on the board as the Chair of Strategic Mission Committee.  Nationally, I am a member of Komen’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) and Steering Committee for Advocates in Science.  Since its inception, Komen has been an advocate-centered organization. Advocates (breast cancer survivors and co-survivors) have been integrated into all the facets of Komen, including the research program where advocates are asked to sit as colleagues at the table with researchers in reviewing grants and directing our research program.  Advocates bring a sense of reality and urgency to the table, and assuring perspectives from the world of patients/survivors are a cornerstone and fully integrated into decisions at every step of the research process.

    Komen has a multi-faceted approach…working in every arena needed to truly put an end to this disease from research to community engagement in educating and filling needed breast cancer service gaps at a local level to public policy that assures research funding and people’s access to effective breast health and cancer services.  It’s our goal to discover and deliver the cures for breast cancer, while serving women and men who need our help today and tomorrow.

    With Komen, I am helping make a difference in the research being funded, the public policies that affect our breast health and care, and the lives of those served by our Affiliate’s community grants program that funds needed screening, education, patient navigation and cancer support services. Every day more women are diagnosed with breast cancer…and despite the latest in treatment, more women still have to live with or fear a recurrence…every day more lives are lost to this disease – with Komen, one day we will see a world without breast cancer.

    Updated 10/18/12

    Read other impact stories.

  • “Parenthood” and the Breast Cancer Storyline

    Guest blog post from Susan Brown, Managing Director, Community Health of Susan G. Komen for the Cure

    Breast cancer has become a main storyline of NBC’s  “Parenthood.” In the last few episodes, viewers have seen Monica Potter’s character, Kristina Braverman, receive a breast cancer diagnosis and deal with some of the initial emotions and decisions that so many women battling breast cancer have to face.

    In the most recent episode that aired last Tuesday night, Kristina handled the incredibly difficult task of telling the news to her family. The scene hits close to home for many of us who have spoken or heard the words, “I have cancer.”

    Parenthood - Monica Potter - Breast Cancer

    Since receiving her breast cancer diagnosis, Kristina struggles with things that many other women like her must handle, such as finding the right doctor, deciding on different surgery options and dealing with family members who are trying to help, but may come across as judgmental or over-bearing.

    We applaud NBC for  portraying the difficult realities of a breast cancer diagnosis. In addition to raising awareness of the importance of screenings and early detection, the show illustrates the importance of having a strong support system.

    We want women to understand that they are not alone in the fight against breast cancer and that there are others going through similar experiences. We also want to help.  We have resources and information – and a community of breast cancer survivors who willingly share their stories.  If you are looking for help in your community, please find your local Komen Affiliate for resources close to home.

    We are honored to share stories of compassion, determination, triumph, despair and optimism through the eyes of breast cancer survivors, the people who love them and the people helping them every day. We encourage you to check out their stories.