Op-Ed: Breast Cancer and the Power of One

Susan G. Komen® recently reported that there will be 292,130 new cases of breast cancer this year. That number is staggering.

I once heard the great Oprah Winfrey discuss her comprehension of the values of large numbers. She said that when she started making large amounts of money, she could understand the value of $100, but found it impossible to understand the value of $100 million.

I look at the number above in the same way. I cannot begin to comprehend the overwhelming number of people who will be affected by breast cancer this year, especially when that initial number of diagnoses is multiplied by friends and family. What I can comprehend is the number one.

One very close friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer, and in that first, terrifying moment, I realized those big numbers didn’t matter. The only number I needed to know was the number one, as in myself – one person who might work to make a difference.

Yes, it seems impossible for me to help all those hundreds of thousands of people. When I think of cancer that way, it feels insurmountable. But when I stop to think about how I can impact the people affected around me, the ones in my community, my family and friends, I see that there are things I can do.

Broadway Break Thru®, my performing arts summer intensive, and I began working with the Susan G. Komen – Chicagoland Affiliate® this fall, and I was honored and humbled to partner with such a wonderful organization. Almost every Broadway Break Thru family has in some way been affected by cancer, so this partnership has been a meaningful one for all of us.

While I was excited to work with the legendary Komen organization, at first I had no idea what I, personally, could offer. Then my good friend, Wilmette resident Jennifer Woolford, reminded me that my students and I actually have a very special expertise: entertainment.

People tend to think about financial contributions to philanthropic causes, but there are many nontraditional ways that individuals can use their unique skills to contribute to organizations and causes close to their hearts. I am excited to join Broadway Break Thru in promoting creative philanthropy, and to show my students that their talents really can change the world.

Broadway Break Thru will be providing the entertainment and performers for the upcoming Mother’s Day Race for the Cure® on Sunday, May 10 in Butler Field, Grant Park. Performances will feature cast members from the Broadway National tour of The Book of Mormon, currently playing at the Bank of American Theatre through May 17. Chicago dance companies and our amazing Broadway Break Thru students will also be providing special performances.

We’ll also be making a financial contribution. For every person that registers for either the Winnetka Summer Intensive or Roosevelt University Pre-College Summer Intensives between May 1–15, Broadway Break Thru will donate $50 of that registration fee to Komen Chicago.

As a casting director and executive director of a performing arts camp, I see amazing talent every day. I am thrilled to be sharing this talent with the thousands of Race for the Cure participants that will join us on Mother’s Day. Equally exciting is the performance opportunity and experience it will provide our 2015 Winnetka Summer Intensive students.

I hope you will join us on this special day to celebrate our mothers, our daughters, our sisters and our friends with laughter, new memories and great performances.

More information about the Susan G Komen Mother’s Day Race For the Cure can be found at komenchicago.org.

You can learn more about Broadway Break Thru and make a donation to Susan G. Komen at www.BroadwayBreakThru.com.