What comes to mind when you think about breast cancer awareness? Is it a friend or family member that you know who has overcome the illness? The month of October? The color Pink? For me, the words breast cancer awareness immediately prompts my brain to the Susan G. Komen foundation. The Susan G. Komen foundation was founded in 1982. With the goal of saving lives and ending breast cancer forever, the foundation to date has invested more than $2.2 billion in research and life-saving community programs. According to their website, Komen grants have been made up to $300 billion allowing for major breakthroughs in breast cancer research over the past 30 years. The foundation prides itself on the implementation of community events as well as their signature event: The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. This event alone has raised more than $1.5 billion while also working to inform the public, honor those lost in the fight with breast cancer, and fund breast cancer research and treatment facilities.
With all of this success I cannot help but wonder why? What is so special about this foundation? How have they been able to emerge and sustain themselves as one of the most successful breast cancer awareness foundations?
The answer is that this unique foundation serves as a means of community for women suffering and overcoming similar hardships. Rather than just serving as a fundraising initiative, The Susan G. Komen foundation is often portrayed as an outlet for women with breast cancer to connect and gather to discuss commonalities. This illustrates women’s immense drive to seek connection within society. This can be related to communication specialist Deborah Tannen’s theory of genderlect. This particular theory of communication explains the differences between how men and women engage in conversation. Genderlect indicates that the way men and women differentiate in the methods of how they converse are neither right nor wrong, or superior or inferior. They are simply different. Women have a deep drive to seek connection in communication where as men have a deep drive to seek status. This connection-seeking behavior is drastically evident within the foundation. The Susan G. Komen website is this foundations primary way of connecting women. Upon visiting the website, you will notice that there are support groups for women, no matter their stage in life. Tabs labeled “I’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer” and “Someone I know was diagnosed” make for easy navigation when on this website. This type of setup is ideal for women. Going through a tragedy such as this can put quite the strain on a women’s life. Understanding how women operate and what it takes to meet their needs through the genderlect theory, allows women to receive the adequate support they need in a way that best suits them.
The foundation began when Nancy G Brinker promised her dying sister Susan that she would do everything she could to end breast cancer. The promise between the sisters sparked such an impact that many were willing to help the cause. Now, on top of their signature event and community partnerships the Susan G Komen foundation has become so successful that there are programs in more than fifty countries.
The success of the foundation has continued to build over a period of time starting with the passionate story of Susan G Komen. As more and more people have jumped on the bandwagon, the foundation has recognized the importance of spreading the word about breast cancer, encouraging early detection and treatment, and influencing involvement from many people, all in ways that cater to the communication needs of women. In turn, they have been able to inspire hope, fund research, and benefit cancer survivors globally.
Click on the link below to visit the Susan G. Komen website for further information regarding this organization.
-Kaitlin Batson, Alex Corrigan, Parker Farfour, Caitlin Ford