When cancer declares war on one of our people, our people declare war on cancer. Cancer declared war on Susan G. Komen. She lost her battle, but she started a war.
Yesterday, I participated in my first Race for the Cure ®. I wasn’t ready. I was ready to walk the 5k, no problem. But I wasn’t prepared to walk behind a beautiful girl no older than 13. She walked with a friend. Silently. That alone was shocking. Yet, without saying a word, the girl told me her story. On her back was a sign that said:
I race in memory of
I love you and I miss you so much.
No, I wasn’t prepared for that. When I read that sign, the only thing that kept me from collapsing in tears was the river of pink and white t-shirts I saw walking in front of me, next to me, behind me. 50,000 “mothers” (people who act with kindness and affection) showed up to let that kid know we care.
Every woman diagnosed with breast cancer is some mother’s child. Far too often, a woman diagnosed with breast cancer is some child’s mother.
In 1980: Most people were embarrassed to say the word breast out loud. Insurance companies wouldn’t pay for breast reconstruction. Far too many mothers and daughters were losing their lives to breast cancer. But one young mother promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would do everything she could to help breast cancer patients.
Lucky for us, that young mother, Nancy Brinker, is a genius. She didn’t reach out to doctors or CEOs or congress. She gathered a group of women who gathered more women who put a pink ribbon on breast cancer and changed everything. They –we - our people - the “mothers” of the world - the people who act with kindness and affection – we changed everything.
We made the term breast cancer a household word not an embarrassing secret. We popularized mammograms and self-exams. We made bald a badge of courage. We raised $1.5 BILLION! We forced insurance companies to pay for reconstruction. Heck, they’ve even come up with a procedure in which belly fat is used to create the new breasts!
I didn’t do that. Nancy Brinker didn’t do that. Our people did that. Together: one conversation, one pink product purchase, and one self-exam at a time.
There are two kinds of signs that racers wear at Race for the Cure ®. One is “in memory of” the loved ones that lost their battles. The other is “in celebration of” the survivors who lived to fight another day. My sign said:
I race in CELEBRATION of
I thank you, my people, for that.
You have power beyond measure. Use it wisely.