Nancy Brinker talks openly about her older sister, Susan G. Komen, whose name helped change the fight against breast cancer. “People didn’t know my sister, and you know, I wanted people to know her,” said Brinker, explaining what prompted her to write a new memoir, “Promise Me.”
In the book, Brinker brings their childhood to life with stories about growing up in Illinois, and traveling the world. She also details Susan’s diagnosis in 1977, and her nearly three year battle with the disease which often took place right in Dallas.
“A lot of people think 30 years later that some rich person died and left a lot of money,” said Brinker talking about the misconceptions she is trying to correct. “Quite to the contrary, every single dollar that’s been raised in this organization has been grassroots donations by people. ”
Brinker talks about the heart-felt promise she made to her sister before the two said goodbye – a promise to raise awareness and help end breast cancer.
“I think she’d be very pleased and to see so many people in communities and grassroots communities living and being involved, but I think she would very clearly want us to keep going,” Brinker adds.
Over the 30 years since Susan G. Komen died, her little sister has worked tirelessly to change the world’s view of breast cancer from a disease that was never openly discussed to one that is part of a national conversation.
“It’s important to believe that as a single person you can do something about it, that you’re not helpless. And even if you just do a little thing, it’s important,” Brinker explained.
Because of the work Brinker started out of pain and sorrow, many more women diagnosed with breast cancer have survived.
“We have almost eliminated death from very early breast cancer since the 70s. The 5 year survival rate was 74%, today it’s 98%.” she cites.
Today, the Susan G Komen For The Cure organization is funding cutting edge research that Brinker believes will lead to a cure within the next ten years.
“I do want to see a lot of this happen in my lifetime. I want to know that I finished or at least got us to a very close finish of eradication of death by breast cancer. It just shouldn’t happen.”