Forty years ago, one sister made a promise to another, that she would end the silence around breast cancer; raise money for research; and to one day cure breast cancer for good. This was what Nancy Brinker promised to her sister Susan Goodman Komen who died of breast cancer in 1980. In 1982, Nancy had put her formidable fund-raising talents to work and established the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. The Foundation also awarded its first research grant for $28,000 to Dr. Gary Spitzer at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. the first Race for the Cure® took place in Dallas, TX in 1983 with 800 participants.
Just four years after Susan passed away from breast cancer, Nancy found herself in the same situation. Brinker received her breast cancer diagnosis in 1984 which continued to motivate her to seek treatment, spread the word, and continue to search for a cure. October 1986 was the first Breast Cancer Awareness Month; every October since has served as an annual campaign to raise awareness about the impact of breast cancer.
Brinker turned the Susan G. Komen for the Cure into the most influential health charity in the country and arguably the world. Its pink ribbon is an iconic a symbol of hope everywhere. Each year, millions of people worldwide take part in Race for the Cure events. To date, the Susan G. Komen Foundation has “invested more than $3.3 billion in groundbreaking research, community health outreach, advocacy and programs in more than 60 countries” and “helped reduce deaths from breast cancer by 40 percent between 1989-2016.”
Now on display outside of Hillcrest Hall for the month of October 2022: Ribbons, Races and Research: Forty Years of the Susan G. Komen Foundation 1982-2022. This exhibit chronicles the establishment of the foundation and its impact around the globe on breast cancer awareness and research.
Housed in the Archives of Women of the Southwest at the DeGolyer Library, the Susan G. Komen Foundation records comprise: papers, photographs, clippings, company publications, awards, and artifacts along with an additional terabyte of digital video, photograph, and document files.
Contact Samantha Dodd, curator of the Archives of Women of the Southwest for additional information or assistance with accessing the collections. For access to these collections or to learn more about the women of the southwest, be sure to visit the DeGolyer Library and check out our books, manuscripts, pamphlets, and photographs.
In October, think pink!