Who is Susan G. Komen?
Susan G. Komen fought breast cancer with her heart, mind, body and soul.
Throughout her diagnosis, treatments, and endless days in the hospital, she
spent her time thinking of ways to make life better for other women battling
breast cancer instead of worrying about her own situation. That concern for
others continued even as Susan neared the end of her fight in 1980 at the age of 36. Moved by Susan’s compassion for others and committed to making a difference, Nancy G. Brinker promised her sister that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever.
That promise is now Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the global leader of the
breast cancer movement, having invested nearly $1.5 billion since its inception
in 1982. As the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists, we’re working together to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. Thanks to events like the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure® and generous contributions from our partners, sponsors, and fellow supporters, we have become the world’s largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer.
A look back at milestones in the breast cancer movement:
Susan Goodman Komen is diagnosed with breast cancer, a disease rarely
discussed in public and about which there is scarce information and few
First Lady Betty Ford goes public with her breast cancer diagnosis and mastectomy, helping to plant the seeds for greater awareness of the disease.
Susan Komen dies of breast cancer at age 36. Before she dies she asks her
sister, Nancy Brinker, to promise to do everything possible to end breast
Nancy G. Brinker founds the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation on
July 22 in Dallas, Texas, in her sister’s memory , starting out with $200 and a shoebox of friends’ names to call on for help.
Komen holds its first fundraising event — a women’s polo tournament and
lawn party — and awards its first grant totaling $30,000 to M.D. Anderson in
Houston and Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.
First Komen Race for the Cure® is held in Dallas, Texas, with 800
First Komen National Awards Luncheon is held in Dallas with special guest
former First Lady Betty Ford. Komen later creates an award in her honor.
Nancy Brinker is diagnosed with breast cancer.
First Komen Race for the Cure held outside of Dallas takes place in Peoria, IL, the birthplace of Susan Komen.
First National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) is held in October.
Nancy Brinker is the first breast cancer advocate named by Ronald Reagan to the President’s Cancer Panel.
Only 54 percent of American women ages 40 and older receive a mammogram.
Komen expands its grassroots approach by adding its first “chapter” outside of the Dallas area, in San Francisco, CA.
The Komen National Toll-Free Breast Care Helpline is established as a way to reach out to those who have been touched by breast cancer.
First coed Race for the Cure is held in Wichita, Kan. A total of seven Komen Race events are held this year.
Komen Affiliates award their first community grants for education, screening and treatment projects.
The first breast cancer survivor program is launched at the Komen National
Race for the Cure® in Washington, D.C., and the survivors wear black and
white buttons. In the same year, as the survivor program develops, pink is
used as the designated color, and pink visors are used for survivor
Pink ribbons are distributed to all breast cancer survivors and participants of the Komen New York City Race for the Cure®. This is the first appearance of the pink ribbon.
Komen reaches the $1 million mark in funding of research and project grants in a single year.
Editor-in-chief of Self magazine Alexandra Penney, wanting to put the magazine’s second annual Breast Cancer Awareness Month issue over the top, creates a pink ribbon and enlists cosmetics giant Estee Lauder to distribute them in New York City stores. Subsequently, the pink ribbon becomes the universal symbol for breast cancer awareness.
U.S. Olympic runner Francie Larrieu Smith becomes National Honorary Chair of the Race for the Cure Series.
Komen marks its 10th Anniversary with a gala event that includes special guests Vice President and Mrs. Dan Quayle. U.S. Senator Connie Mack and Priscilla Mack receive the Betty Ford Award.
Komen plays a key role in getting the Mammography Quality Standards Act
passed. The act creates a national standard for breast cancer screening.
Komen gives the first Brinker International Awards for Breast Cancer Research to V. Craig Jordan, Ph.D., D.Sc., and Bernard Fisher, M.D. The award recognizes physicians and researchers who advance the study and treatment of breast cancer.
Former Komen grantee Mary Claire King, Ph.D., discovers the gene mutation BRCA1, an indicator for inherited forms of breast cancer.
Race for the Cure events are held in 57 U.S. cities. Komen Chapters are renamed “Affiliates”, and there are 27 around the country.
As an early pioneer of corporate partnerships, 20 companies join forces with Komen to help educate consumers about breast cancer through cause-marketing initiatives such as sponsorship of the Komen Race for the Cure Series.
With the launch of its website, Komen provides one of the first online resources solely dedicated to breast health and breast cancer information.
With support from Komen, the U.S. Postal Service issues the Breast Cancer
Research Stamp, the first semipostal stamp ever offered to generate funding
for disease awareness and research. These funds are earmarked for the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP) and for
breast cancer research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
First Komen Race for the Cure® event is held outside of the United States, in Costa Rica. The Komen Race for the Cure Series is now the world’s largest registered 5K race.
Seventy-one percent of American women age 40 and older receive a mammogram
— one- third more than in 1989.
Komen establishes the African American National Advisory Council (AANAC)
to further support the breast cancer needs of the African American population and to help reduce their mortality rate, which is the highest of any ethnic group.
An Interdisciplinary Breast Care Fellowship is established with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center to better educate clinicians about the special needs and care of breast cancer patients.
Telomerase, an enzyme instrumental in a chromosome’s ability to divide and
replicate, is discovered by former Komen grantee Elizabeth Blackburn, Ph.D.
First international Komen Affiliates are established in Germany and Greece. Today, Komen has international Affiliates in Germany, Italy and Puerto Rico.
One of Komen’s top legislative priorities becomes reality when President
Bill Clinton signs an executive order mandating that Medicare coverage
include clinical trials.
Komen provides $1.5 million in funding for a first-of-its-kind research study on the quality of cancer care in association with the American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO), Harvard University and the Rand Corporation.
International Komen Affiliate is established in Italy. The first international Affiliate-hosted Komen Race for the Cure® is held in Rome in May.
Komen establishes the Breast Health Advisory Council (BHAC), consisting of
internationally recognized breast cancer experts to provide support and guidance.
Recognizing a need for research and scholarship in the area of breast cancer survivorship issues, a Komen Professor of Survivorship Award is established.
For the first time in a single season, more than one million people cross the finish line in the Komen Race for the Cure® Series.
Volunteers continue to be Komen’s biggest asset, totaling more than 75,000
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the first digital mammography devices. Komen strongly supports the FDA’s decision to make new
screening technologies available.
Male breast cancer survivor and Honorary Team New Balance Member Mark Goldstein participates in his 100th Komen Race for the Cure®.
Representatives of Komen participate in an official White House round-table discussion on breast cancer with President George W. Bush, Laura Bush, physicians, scientists, advocates, survivors and members of the Bush Administration.
Worth magazine names Komen one of “America’s 100 Best Charities” out of
more than 819,000 charities in the U.S. Of the 27 health organizations named
to the “100 Best” list, Komen was one of only two solely focused on women’s health.
Komen commemorates its 20th Anniversary and all that has been achieved in
the fight against breast cancer as a result of the original promise made between two sisters.
Komen celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the Komen Race for the Cure®, a series of more than 100 Races around the world. It is the largest series of 5K runs/fitness walks in the world.
Together with its Affiliate Network, corporate partners and generous donors, since its inception Komen has raised $750 million for the fight against breast cancer. In fiscal year 2003-04, 75 cents of every dollar raised was spent on mission programs and services.
More than 40 Komen Affiliates participate in Champions for the Cure™, a
grassroots program designed to educate Congress, the president and other
policymakers about breast cancer. More than 100,000 Americans have become
Komen eChampions by visiting ActNowEndBreastCancer.org, a virtual advocacy
forum aimed at influencing the government on crucial breast cancer issues.
The organization marks its 25th anniversary and changes its name to Susan
G. Komen for the Cure.
Komen changes its logo to include a “running ribbon,” symbolizing the energy and forward momentum employed as Komen advocates work to end breast cancer forever.
Komen reaches the milestone of $1 billion invested in the breast cancer movement and pledges to invest another $2 billion in the next decade.
Komen Community Challenge is launched. It is a 25-city campaign to rally leaders around the country to put breast cancer back at the top of the national agenda.
Komen launches the first-ever Global Advocate Summit, connecting delegates
from the U.S. and 30 other countries to discuss the global state of breast cancer.
The Scientific Advisory Board is established. It is a small group of top-level scientific and medical advisors led by Dr. Eric P. Winer.
Komen changes the grants process to focus on four categories: Promise Grants, Investigator-Initiated Research Grants, Career Catalyst Research Grant, and
The first-ever State of Breast Cancer is published. The report discusses the breast cancer movement in lay terms, acknowledging successes and challenges remaining in the quest to rid the world of breast cancer.
Course for the Cure™ is first utilized to train advocates from nine pilot countries as part of Komen’s Global Initiative for Breast Cancer.
The Global Promise Fund is established, allowing donors to contribute specifically to Komen’s global work.
Komen celebrates $100 million awarded in research grants, representing the largest single-year investment in research in the organization’s 26-year
Susan G. Komen made a difference in this world, even after her early death. And you can too, by being part of Bling My Bra.