Letter from Board President, Kimberly Moman
Volunteering for Susan G Komen
As we prepare to honor our volunteers at the annual Komen Volunteer Banquet this month, I have been reflecting on how and why I became a volunteer for the Tristate Komen Affiliate and how far we have come over the years in diagnosing and treating breast cancer.
The first reason I became a volunteer is an obvious one – I was asked to help by someone I knew. To be honest, I was hesitant to volunteer with Komen; it is not always easy. Our Komen affiliate is blessed to have many breast cancer survivors as volunteers who we get to know during their journey in fighting breast cancer. Sometimes we lose people. Sometimes we are reminded of loved ones we have lost or who are suffering while in treatment.
The person who asked me to help with Race for the Cure treasury back in 2002 had no idea that I had lost my mother to metastatic breast cancer in 1989. I actually didn’t share that information with her, or anyone else for that matter, and silently took it as a sign I should get involved.
The fact I did not share my personal connection to breast cancer is a reflection of the times when my mother was first diagnosed. The experience is very different in present day than it was in 1981 when my mother had a radical mastectomy while living in rural Kentucky. There was no Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation at the time to provide information on resources and options; the organization was formed in 1982. Breast reconstruction after a mastectomy did not automatically occur; the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act requiring insurance companies to provide coverage for reconstructive surgery did not become a law until 1998. At the time a lot of driving was necessary: a recurring 50 mile drive south to the hospital for treatment followed by a 50 mile drive north to DeJong’s in Evansville, which was the only store in the area to purchase a prosthetic breast.
Fast-forwarding to present day, there is a multitude of information and resources available when a person is diagnosed with breast cancer. Due to technological advancements there are more options for screening, with 3D mammograms and mobile mammography to bring the services to you as well as less invasive treatment options. There has been a 39% decline in deaths from breast cancer since 1989. The advances made would not have been possible without the initial grassroots effort started by the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and the local volunteers to raise awareness and raise funds for breast cancer screening, education, treatment, and research. Since 1982 Komen has nationally funded more breast cancer research than any other nonprofit, $956 million!
This brings me to the second reason why I volunteer for Komen. I volunteer in the hopes that in the future no children will lose their mothers to breast cancer. Children should not have to learn words like “mastectomy” and “metastasized”, or wonder if their parents will be well enough or live long enough to be present for the important milestones in their lives.
Our Tristate Komen affiliate is very fortunate to have passionate, committed volunteers vested in helping to reach the organization’s Bold Goal to reduce the current number of breast cancer deaths by 50 percent in the U.S. by 2026. Komen Volunteers, THANK YOU for all you do to raise funds and organize events to benefit our local affiliate. As we move forward with an eye towards the future, please keep in mind that we don’t always know people’s stories and motivations. You can make a huge impact on someone just by asking them to volunteer.
Kimberly Moman, Board President