I’m often asked for my input and opinions on Susan G. Komen. These questions come from team members, supporters, family and friends and are typically prompted by a negative article or piece of news. Let’s just set the record straight, I don’t think the organization is perfect. They’ve had their PR troubles and they’ve done stuff I don’t always agree with but guess what, I don’t know an organization out there that is perfect. And I’m a firm believer; you have to take the good with the bad. That’s just life. If you look for perfection, you’re going to be disappointed.
Just to be clear, I don’t work for Komen and I’m not on their board (although I think I would be a great candidate). I’m just a supporter who found my passion after a diagnosis with breast cancer at age 36. I’m walking my 7th 3-Day and my team has raised nearly $700,000 for Komen. My agency, Brogan & Partners, supports the Detroit Race for the Cure as their pro-bono advertising agency. No one hired me to give positive or negative feedback. I just want everyone to know the facts and base their opinions on the truth.
So let’s talk about all the good things Susan G. Komen has done and is doing today in the fight against breast cancer. Since 1982, they’ve invested more than $2.5 billion dollars with $804 million of those dollars funding over 2,200 research grants. Just last year, they invested $49.5 million dollars in 124 new research projects.
The latest negative article points to their lack of attention to Metastatic—late stage breast cancer. Susan G. Komen has spent more than $91 million dollars on metastatic research funding over 200 grants. They’ve partnered with metastatic organizations for years and just last year, Komen joined with 15 organizations to form the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance.
Of particular interest to me is their work in Triple Negative Breast Cancer. In 2006, just one year before my diagnosis, triple negative was identified as a distinct sub-type. While I did not have triple negative breast cancer, I’ve seen this disease impact many of my friends, some who are sadly no longer with us today. Since 2006, Komen has invested more than $74 million dollars across over 100 research grants. In 2009, Komen joined forces with the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation and pledged an additional $6.4 million over five years to fund research to support the discovery of new treatments. Unfortunately, this cancer has a greater chance of metastasizing and so the importance of understanding this cancer and better treatments is monumental.
And we can’t ignore the tremendous work in early detection—more than $33 million to find better technologies for breast cancer screening, as well as educational strategies to increase the number of women who participate in breast cancer screening. They reach out into the community and fund screening, education and treatment for low-income and uninsured women nationwide to the tune of $218 million dollars in Fiscal Year 2013 alone.
Many are offended by the happy pink ribbons and sea of pink that emerges every October. I’m not one of those people. I like what the pink represents and it makes me happy to know the support I have. And walking the 3-Day for me is an opportunity to celebrate my survivorship and also remember the friends I’ve lost in this battle.
I will continue to support Komen, to walk the 3-Day, to rally team members, to share my unsolicited marketing advice, to help the Detroit Race for the Cure. And I hope you will all join me. We need Komen. We need the dollars they raise. We need them to keep providing grants to other breast cancer organizations. We need them to keep forming partnerships. We need them to continue fighting on our behalf and for our mothers, daughters, sisters, cousins and friends. And as long as I can, I’ll be there supporting their work, participating in their events and sharing my love for an organization that has done so much in this fight.