The Betty Interview: Nancy Brinker
An interview with the remarkable woman who started Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
It was a phone call from the White House but “I thought it was a joke,” says Nancy Brinker, the founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world’s leading grass roots breast cancer foundation. “I really thought it was a phony call,” she says – until she was told that she had been chosen to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian award. Then she says, “I burst into tears. You see, it was exactly 30 years since my sister Suzy died.” Nancy started the foundation with a promise to her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would do everything possible to end the shame, pain, fear and hopelessness caused by breast cancer.
At the time when Nancy began her work, few talked openly about this disease. There were limited treatment options and little funding for research. In 1983, Nancy, combining her zeal with her considerable marketing skills, started the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. It is now the world’s largest and most successful education and fund raising event for breast cancer.
She also pioneered cause-related marketing, allowing millions to participate in the fight against breast cancer by purchasing products. The foundation’s advocacy for breast cancer survivors has also led to new legislation and greater government research funding. To date, virtually every major advance in breast cancer research has been helped by hundreds of millions of dollars in Susan G. Komen funding.