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30 Years Later Brinker Is Still Committed To Her Promise To End Breast Cancer

6:10 PM, Jun 3, 2010   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- It all began with a promise to a woman dying of breast cancer.  The promise was to end breast cancer forever. 

The dying woman was Susan G. Komen. And the woman making good on that promise is Komen's sister, Ambassador Nancy Goodman Brinker. She founded Susan G. Komen For The Cure after she lost her only sister, Suzy, to the disease in 1980. Suzy was just 36 years old.

"She was a person who believed that just because of where you lived, or the color of your skin, or the religion you believed in, none of those should make a difference in your ability to be treated for a deadly disease," Brinker said.

Her crusade against breast cancer is one of the largest ever launched and now includes men and women all over the world. According to Brinker, breast cancer is a disease that doesn't just stop at America's borders. Every 68 seconds, a woman will die of breast cancer somewhere in the world.

"There is no awareness, no treatment," she said. "Governments don't even deal with the words 'breast cancer' out loud." Susan G. Komen For The Cure became a global leader in breast cancer activism when others couldn't or wouldn't.

"We are taking what we have learned and translating it into real therapy at the best hospitals and centers in the world," Ambassador Brinker said. "All the way to the streets, all the way to some of the poorest communities in the world."

A memoir called "Promise Me" details Brinker's special bond with her sister. "Every time I go to a Race For The Cure, no matter where it is in this country or out of this country I have a special moment of connectivity with my sister," she said. "It's as if she's there."

According to Brinker, nearly every advancement in breast cancer science and research has somehow been connected to a Susan G. Komen grant. The Komen Foundation has invested nearly $2 billion in the fight against breast cancer since Suzy's death 30 years ago. An additional $8 million has been earmarked for international community education and outreach programs.

Ambassador Brinker is excited about the next frontier of breast cancer technology. New therapies and treatments will make the next decade even better than the last. "For the short term, I will settle for turning this into a chronic disease that people can live with and live quality lives," she said. "(I want them to) be there to raise their children and be there to be productive and have full lives."

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