Sister, Activist, Visionary, Author, Ambassador
October is so closely associated with breast cancer awareness—Think Pink! —that it’s difficult to remember that breast cancer was once a taboo subject. Nancy Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, is one of the women who led the sea change in attitude, awareness and funding.
In 1982, Brinker’s older sister, Susan, died of breast cancer in Peoria, Ill. Susan was only 35 and left behind a husband and two children. Brinker adored her vibrant, beautiful, and loving older sister. During the cancer battle, Brinker and Komen learned awful lessons about the lack of visibility and resources for breast cancer patients.
“Before she died, I promised Susan that I would do everything in my power to end breast cancer,” Brinker explains. Thus, a 32-year old gave birth to a powerful movement.
Susan G. Komen For The Cure has raised over $2 billion for breast cancer research and programs in over 50 countries, developed the world’s largest grass-roots network of cancer survivors and supporters, started a new and particularly effective concept, “Cause Related Marketing,” all while operating with very lean administrative overhead.
Brinker envisioned the annual Race for a Cure as an event that would grow a grassroots network. She fostered relationships between businesses, government and volunteer organizations to grow funding and visibility. Because of Brinker, breast cancer patients around the world now have the support, resources and hope that weren’t available to her sister.
Brinker’s vision and passion have taken her to other remarkable places in life too. She served as U.S. Ambassador to Hungary and as U.S. Chief of Protocol, received the U.S. Medal Of Freedom, and was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine. Brinker has even written a New York Times best seller, “Promise Me – How A Sister’s Love Launched A Global Movement To End Breast Cancer.”
Women and their families everywhere owe Brinker a big pink hug and a heartfelt, “Thank You!” A donation online at komen.org would be most appreciated too. But, really, Make It Better encourages you to be further inspired by Brinker. Imagine where your efforts could lead, if you lived with the same drive and passion to make a difference as that 32-year old from Peoria: Nancy Brinker.