Susan G. Komen – More Than Pink

In Abby Hope Photography, Community, Kelly Matkins by Lola Magazine

I’m so proud to work for a breast cancer organization that is “more than pink.” Susan G. Komen is the organization that started the pink ribbon to represent breast cancer awareness. For many younger people, they don’t know a world without the pink ribbon, but for those who can remember former First Lady Betty Ford telling the public she was diagnosed with breast cancer, they remember a world without a pink ribbon. It was a world that whispered the words, breast cancer, and for many, a world that turned its head. Then in 1977 a young, beautiful vibrant woman got that diagnosis, and in 1980 that young woman died at the age of 36. Her name was Susan Goodman Komen. Before she died, her sister promised her she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever, and in 1982 Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation began changing the way we talk about breast cancer, the way we fundraise for breast cancer and the way we fight breast cancer. The very first Race for the Cure was held in Dallas in 1983.  It has now grown into the world’s largest grass roots breast cancer organization with a presence not just in the United States but all over the world. In fact, we are the largest non-profit breast cancer organization to save lives by meeting the most critical needs in our communities and investing in breakthrough research to prevent and cure breast cancer. Just last year Komen announced a bold goal to reduce the current number of breast cancer deaths by 50-percent in the U.S. within the next decade. We are well on our way.

The Komen North Louisiana Affiliate has grown since it started its first Race in 1994, and today we serve a 22 parish area. We have invested more than 5 million dollars into local programs to provide breast health education, screening mammograms for women who don’t have health insurance and support services for women who are diagnosed. We do that through our community and small grants program. We grant the money to local non-profits to provide these services. We call it our mission. Two years ago we put our mission in motion by working together with our grantees and other partners on a project we call our Pink Ribbon Pop Up. We go to the targeted rural parts of our territory that we have found are still underserved and still struggling with access to care. Together we are showing these communities that Komen North Louisiana belongs to them. Money raised here, stays here.  When we host our Race for the Cure, money comes back to places like Arcadia and Springhill. Our grantees and other partner organizations are great when they work independently, but on Pop Up days, this collaboration is waking up communities and small towns for women to take action by getting screened for breast cancer.

Statistics show that one in eight women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Louisiana has the second highest mortality rate of breast cancer in the country. Chances are everyone knows someone touched by breast cancer. A lot of people like to only think about breast cancer in October. At Komen North Louisiana, we think about it all year long. We help people all year long, and I’m fortunate to work with the organizations and the people we help.

We hope that the community will join us by registering for our September 30th Race for the Cure. It’s easy to register; go to the website, and then join us at CenturyLink Center in Bossier City. This year we plan to “Give Breast Cancer the Boot” with a Louisiana country theme! The Arthur Ray Teague Parkway will be a sea of pink and filled with pink ribbons. Together we will show the community we are “more than pink”.

Written by: Kelley Matkins