What Is the Story Behind the Susan G. Komen Foundation?


Quick Answer

The Susan G. Komen foundation was founded in 1982 by Nancy G. Brinker in response to a promise made to her sister who was dying of breast cancer. Komen's diagnosis occurred at a time when public information about breast cancer was scarce. Throughout her battle with the disease, she became aware of the poor treatment endured by patients and the lack of breast cancer awareness, and she implored her sister Brinker to help other women suffering from the disease.

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Full Answer

Komen's initial diagnosis came from the family doctor she had visited her whole life. Brinker cites this as the first mistake in tackling the disease, because the doctor failed to provide adequate counseling about the best course of treatment. Komen, who opted out of a mastectomy, was referred to a surgeon by her family doctor who made unsubstantiated claims about his ability to cure the disease.

A key event at this time occurred when first lady Betty Ford made public the news of her own battle with breast cancer that resulted in a mastectomy. This gave Komen the courage to fight and increased her desire to help others and to spread awareness, leading to the final request she made to her sister.

Brinker started the global breast cancer movement in her living room with $200 and a shoebox full of names. The Susan G. Komen Foundation is now a global community of advocates, scientists and individuals sharing the goal of ending breast cancer.

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