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Komen reality not in Dallas

BY KATHY LATOUR
PUBLISHED THURSDAY, AUGUST 9, 2012
While it appears that the big news about Susan G. Komen for the Cure is coming from Dallas, it's not. The big news is coming from the organization's 119 affiliates, and right now I can envision the small groups of women and men who run these local affiliates sitting with head in hands as they think about what programs will lose funding from the trickle down of the national foundation's debacle.

Yes, the Komen foundation is a mess right now with its leadership dropping like flies. With the newest announcement that Nancy Brinker is leaving (which should have happened months ago), I hope they can find another Susan Braun, the woman who led them for 9 years to a position of integrity in the foundation world.

But forget all that for a minute. The bigger story here is with the group's affiliates, which are found in cities small and large around the country. In many cases, the funds raised from these affiliates provide the only breast health education and screening available in the area. Funds from local affiliates have bought mammography machines for hospitals or funded programs to bring mammography to rural or underserved women of all kinds. It has funded treatment for women who could not have received it.

In the early '90s I was part of a nonproft called The Bridge, which brought together doctors and advocates to help provide timely treatment for uninsured women. We would never have gotten off the ground if the Dallas affiliate of Komen had not funded us, and when they did, it was a stamp of approval for other organizations who knew that the affiliate researched any group it funded.

Remember that 75% of the funds raised by affiliates stay local for programs in the community of the affiliate. Those funds mean the difference between life and death for many women.

I have spoken at events for many of these affiliates, and I can tell you that these are the hardest working women and men in breast cancer today. They work full time jobs and work another full time job fundraising to support programs for the needs of women in their area. They are driven by their own experience or that of a loved one. They are not driven by politics but by the need to make a difference.

Instead of all the negative about Komen national, let's hear from those of you working in the affiliates. Tell us what you are doing in your community. Tell us how a Komen affiliate has made a difference to you or your program.

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