When Nancy Brinker made a promise to her dying sister that she would do anything she could to fight breast cancer, she couldn’t have imagined the movement that would eventually become the Susan G. Komen organization. Now she is continuing that tradition with the recent opening of the Promise Fund Mammography Screening Center (promisefundofflorida.org) in Palm Beach, a clinic that provides free early screening services and tests to women as it relates to breast and cervical cancer.
It’s hard to believe that when you decided to start the Susan G. Komen organization in the early ’80s, some newspapers refused to print the phrase ‘breast cancer.’ Correct. At that time, one in 11 women were being diagnosed with [the disease] and you couldn’t even say breast cancer in the mainstream media.
What led you to founding the Promise Fund Mammography Screening Center? A fragmented healthcare system has contributed to a growing number of disparities in breast cancer outcomes. The new screening center, which features the first mammography machine at a federally qualified healthcare center in Palm Beach County, will ensure high-quality breast and cervical cancer care is made available to those who need it most.
Breast cancer is very often in the news now. There’s even a month dedicated to awareness of it, but what would people still be surprised to hear about the disease? Early detection and treatment are our biggest weapons, as the survival rate for early-stage breast cancer is 98.8%, but drops to 27.4% when detected in its advanced stage.
In 2008, you were awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama. Do you recall that moment? As if it were yesterday. It was such an amazing moment in my life, and I am truly thankful that my mother, who was 89 at the time, was able to be present alongside my son and my closest friends to witness it.
The center is opening in late October. What do you hope for its future? I hope that we’ll continue to spread awareness of the resources available through the Promise Fund and our new screening center in particular, so that every woman in Palm Beach County knows that they’ll never be without a mammogram if they need one.
Photography by: Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images