Nancy Brinker, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation
“There was a time when women could scarcely utter the word. They called it “The Big C” and assumed you had to die from it. That fear kept Nancy Brinker’s sister, Suzy Komen, from seeking more aggressive treatment for her breast cancer. After nine operations and three courses of chemotherapy and radiation, Suzy lost her three-year battle in 1980 at the age of 36. Just before she died, Suzy turned to her sister and best friend, Nancy, and said, “Nan, as soon as I get better, let's do something about breast cancer.”
“Terror, rage, sadness, and above all, a feeling of complete and utter helplessness invaded me,” Nancy shared. In the beginning, Nancy wasn’t sure how she could honor Suzy’s request. “The first thing I had to do was make it a subject that people could actually talk about.” So from her living room, she set to work at getting the conversations going.
It certainly wasn’t the ideal time to take on a new cause, but such calls to action are rarely convenient. Not only had Nancy lost her sister, she was stinging from a recent divorce and was in the midst of a horrendous custody battle. To top it off, she had also lost her job. But Nancy proclaims, “Among the many things my sister taught me was this life lesson: there’s no time like the present. So I set to work channeling my anger and sorrow to honor her dying wish…”