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Finding A Cure: Komen President Elizabeth Thompson

7:32 AM, Jun 3, 2011   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- At the 22nd Komen Global Race For the Cure Saturday in DC, nearly 40,000 people, including 4,000 survivors, will be on the National Mall to help Nancy Brinker honor the promise she made to her sister to find a cure for breast cancer.

2020 -- A nice round number and hopefully the year a cure for breast cancer will be announced. That's the deadline set by Susan G. Komen For the Cure. One of the people helping Komen achieve that goal is its global president, Elizabeth Thompson.

"Each race is very, very special and every community that we visit is just tremendous," said Komen President Elizabeth Thompson, who will be among the special visitors cheering those on at Saturday's Komen Global Race For the Cure. It's one of dozens of races she will attend this year.

"The race is a gathering of people who come with all these energies, all these hopes," said Thompson. "so it never feels like been there done that, because it's always new for someone."

Thompson is relatively new to her job. After serving as Komen's senior vice president, medical and scientific affairs, she eagerly accepted the president's job in 2010. "I wanted to make a difference."

Thompson calls this a dynamic time in the breast cancer movement. Today there are nearly 3-million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. alone, the largest number in our history. But getting women to practice early detection continues to be a challenge.

"Last year in our country alone, 40% of the women eligible for screening weren't screened," Thompson said.

Another priority is research. It's the key to helping Nancy Brinker keep her promise to her sister Susan of finding a cure. So far, Komen has invested nearly $2 billion and the payoffs are evident.

Brinker said, "We are taking what we've learned and translating it into real therapy, therapy at the best centers & hospitals in the world all the way to the street, all the way to some of the poorest communities."

"Last year here we invested $93 million in communities across the U.S.; we invested another $58 million in research," Thompson said. "We have 16 trials, clinical trials, in development because of our research today."

So, how close has the research brought us to finding the cure? The deadline set by Komen is 2020.

"Screening is absolutely essential. Then if we move people from screening to diagnosis to treatment very quickly, and very early on in this stage in their breast cancer diagnosis, we can cure those women. We can make a difference for those women," Thompson said. "Together, we still have a lot of work to do. And we're at a very important point. So, we must join together to get this important and critical work done, and take it to the next level. Now's our time."

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