Komen Founder Talks of Cancer Advances - 8 News NOW

Komen Founder Talks of Cancer Advances

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LAS VEGAS -- The Race for the Cure is just a couple of months away. The money goes to the Las Vegas chapter of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

The organization was founded by Nancy Brinker, whose sister Susan died of breast cancer in 1980. Since then, Brinker's work has brought the disease out of the shadows and saved countless lives.

The Race for the Cure in Downtown Las Vegas is one of more than 100 events across the U.S. and around the globe. But in 1983, when Komen was founded, you could hardly say "breast cancer" on TV. Today, it's a household word, and the pink ribbon is an unmistakable symbol of the goal to find a cure.

"One didn't say the words breast cancer out loud very easily. In fact, in Dallas, we couldn't even use the word breast in the newspaper to report on the event," said Ambassador Nancy Brinker founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Ambassador Brinker has written a new book called Promise Me about that pledge she made almost 30 years ago to her sister.

Brinker has been the U.S. ambassador to Hungary, the goodwill ambassador for the World Health Organization, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. But it's the founding of Komen that has truly changed the world.

"We have a very large advocacy program and that's one of the key issues we're focusing on -- keeping the access to care and the survival rates of early stage breast cancer, which are much higher than they were when we started this," she said.

Ambassador Brinker's influence can be felt every time you hear about breast cancer advances, like the new 3D mammography recently approved by the FDA. The Komen Foundation makes enormous grants to scientists all over the world.

"Equally as satisfying is the amount of work we do in the communities to make sure that low-resource people have access to care," she said.

That includes 600,000 mammogram's in the U.S. and 85,000 diagnostic and surgical procedures.

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