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  • Why I'm In with Susan G. Komen

    Personal Stories, Community

     

    Growing up I always knew that I was destined to work for a nonprofit. I knew that I wanted to work somewhere that I could make a difference every day. I never dreamed that the cause I chose to work for would become so personal on so many different levels of my life. 

    I began working at Susan G. Komen 20 years ago. During my interview I mentioned that my mom was a three-year survivor. When I was offered job, I thanked my mom for being a survivor. I believe my own personal connection to the cause helped me get the job over the other candidate. My dedication to Komen’s mission was clear. She smiled and then responded that she hoped that one day I would no longer have a job because we will have found the cures and my job would no longer be needed.  Not many moms want their child to be without a job, but in this case, it makes perfect sense.

    Reflecting over the past 20 years, my connection to breast cancer has grown more and more personal each day. When I started at Komen I was working for my mom, but as the years progressed, I started working for my great aunt and then my aunt.  In all, I’ve had six additional family members diagnosed with breast cancer since I started at Komen. The most recent was my youngest cousin, who was only 38 when she was diagnosed just a few months ago. We received that news the same week we found out that my aunt’s breast cancer had spread, meaning she is living with metastatic, stage IV breast cancer.  We cannot find the cures fast enough. I agree with my mom, I want to work myself out of a job.

     Uncle Louie, Aunt Jane, husband Karl, Laurel, her mother and father

     

    And it’s not just my family.  It seems that each month I’m contacted by another friend or acquaintance that has been diagnosed with breast cancer. In the beginning, everyone that I was fighting for seemed to be a part of my mother’s generation or older.  Now, breast cancer is hitting closer to home. It hit my “baby” cousin and it’s taken the life of two of my high school friends. I’ve sat with several friends and helped them walk through the treatment plans their doctors have proposed. I’ve taken meals to friends after their mastectomies. With each phone call, each conversation and each funeral I attend, my resolve to work harder and faster to end this disease strengthens. I’m tired of watching my friends and family suffer. I’m tired of seeing my friends’ children grow up without their mothers and cry that their moms will never see their graduations or weddings.

    Laurel and her friend, Joy who battled breast cancer

     

    Then there is my work family who is also affected by breast cancer daily. I work with survivors. I work with those living with metastatic breast cancer. I work in memory of my friends and colleagues that we’ve lost throughout the years, like Laurie Mezz, who we lost way too soon. She was not only a great volunteer but had become a good friend along the way. I work for Karen who taught me about strength and endurance as she fought for so many years.  Unfortunately, there are too many to list and describe.

    Laurel’s Komen Family

     

    One in eight women in their lifetime will be diagnosed with breast cancer.  Who is your one?  Who are you fighting for every day?  With so many friends and family who have been touched by this disease, my one changes each day. Each day I see the face of a loved one in my mind and that’s who I work for that day. Each day that face is a different face.  It’s my mom, it’s my aunt, it’s my cousin, my fourth-grade teacher, my high school friend, one of my co-workers. I’ll continue to work until I don’t have to have a one. 

    Who's Your One?

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