A letter for the 3-Day family from Dr. Judy Salerno, Komen CEO

For nearly 35 years, our organization has changed the way the world thinks about, talks about and treats breast cancer, and we are about to break new ground again. None of what’s happened or is about to happen would be possible without women and men in communities nationwide who share our passion to see this disease eliminated once and for all, and who take action. People like you – our amazing Komen 3-Day walkers.

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From left: Loris Maris, Vice President of Komen Affiliate Network, Me (Dr. Judy Salerno), and Amber Livingston, 3-Day Specialist

I was lucky enough to join some of you in Philadelphia for what turned out to be a beautiful weekend (which I hear has not always been the case). And you all looked fantastic in your More Than Pink capes!

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Passing out More Than Pink capes

 

To most people, just the idea of walking 60 miles is exhausting. But you know that with the strains, blisters and bruises comes hope. And more importantly, progress.

The early 1980s weren’t that long ago, but it’s hard to remember that there was a time when the words “breast cancer” weren’t spoken in polite company. Or when breast cancer was perceived to be just one disease (and treated as such, with a one-size-fits-all approach) instead of the family of diseases we know it to be today.

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Through our bold community of supporters, we’ve created a new reality. Every day we learn about breakthroughs, many of which Komen has helped to fund. We are moving toward the day when we can deliver precision medicine for every individual’s unique tumor, to improve all patients’ quality of life and to detect and cure breast cancer at its earliest stages. And perhaps to even prevent breast cancer.

This is possible, thanks to you. With every step, mile, pink tutu and colorful wig, you have elevated our mission and touched the lives of millions. You proudly wear your pink bling because you know that it’s much, much more than a color. It’s a movement, and one that makes a tremendous impact.

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We at Komen recently came up with a new way to describe those who go above and beyond for our mission: “More Than Pink.” The goal is to recognize and celebrate the impact that one person taking action – no matter how large or small – can make.

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Tina at the Seattle 3-Day in 2015

Like 3-Day’s own Tina McDonough. After losing a dear friend to breast cancer, Tina realized that she had to do something to ensure that no one else died of the disease. In 2007, Tina began walking in the Seattle 3-Day. Her team, “Valley Girls and Guys!” continued to grow each year, and today is one of the largest 3-Day teams in the country. To date, her team has raised more than $2.6 million for breast cancer research and community programs. Further, in Tina’s hometown of Seattle, she founded her own nonprofit with the goal of providing direct patient support to women and families battling breast cancer.

Tina is More Than Pink. So are all of you. You said “Yes!” to walking 60 miles … and raising $2,300 … and doing training walks … and talking about our mission with your friends and family. Your time, sweat, and financial investment have already made an enormous difference in this fight.

But don’t retire the moleskin or the HikeGoo just yet.

Despite all the progress that has been made, the reality is that 40,000 women and men still die of breast cancer every year in the U.S.

We can, and will, do better. Starting now.

Komen has set a Bold Goal: To reduce the current number of breast cancer deaths in the U.S. by 50 percent within the next 10 years.

It’s an aggressive goal, but we know it is achievable. To get there, we will focus on our organization’s strengths in two core areas:

  • Investing in breakthrough research to find new treatments for the most aggressive forms of breast cancer like metastatic disease, triple-negative, Luminal B and inflammatory breast cancer, and to leverage transformative technology to detect breast cancer at the very earliest stage.
  • Ensuring quality breast cancer care for all by identifying ways to overcome the financial, geographic and cultural barriers that too many people experience in our country.

This work is already underway, and through the 3-Day blog, we’ll make sure you continue to be updated on this vital mission work that your walks support. The 3-Day team has been hard at work pulling together stories, research updates and more. In the coming months, get ready to meet the scientists and clinicians who are in the midst of this fight – women and men who are also More Than Pink.

Together, we’re going to change that 40,000 number, and the future. Because as much as we all love the Komen 3-Day, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we didn’t need to walk anymore? If this devastating disease didn’t take our mothers, friends, daughters and loved ones?

I know we’re all eager for that day.

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