Debbie Kleman: Why I Support Komen Charlotte 

I was first drawn to Susan G. Komen because of my own personal experience with breast cancer. I vividly remember the devastation the diagnosis brought to me and my family eight years ago. At that time, I was familiar with Komen and its ubiquitous pink ribbon, but I was not aware of the resources and support it offers to people like me.

I knew Komen raised money nationally for research, but I had no idea that the organization is second only to the U.S. government in terms of the breast cancer research it funds. I also didn’t know that 75 percent of the money Komen Charlotte raises stays local in our 13-county area. I find that type of local investment inspiring. The nonprofit uses that money to support patient care, including by filling gaps for low-income and underserved areas. Komen Charlotte also does extensive community outreach, education, and advocacy.

The organization’s mission and impact resonated with me so much that I became a board member this spring. In that role, I have learned even more about why Komen is worth supporting. I recently attended a luncheon featuring some of the latest research by Komen Scholars, an advisory group of 52 cutting-edge physicians and scientists who are driving our understanding and treatment of breast cancer. The luncheon was a fascinating glimpse into the progress we are making with this disease.

As a board member, I have also developed a greater understanding of how Komen Charlotte is a true community resource. One of the simplest examples that resonates with me is how our staff takes phone calls from people across our communities who don’t know where else to go. The nonprofit connects those folks to the resources they need, and it tracks all of the calls it receives in order to monitor trends, better answer questions, and provide the best care.

In addition, Komen Charlotte is playing a critical role in the effort to end breast cancer disparities. African-American women are 40 percent more likely to die from the disease than white women, and Latinas are also disproportionately impacted. Komen is investing heavily in research to better understand this disparity and putting boots on the ground to help prevent it, including by going to churches and other community gathering places to provide education and screening. A recent example of this was Pink Sunday/Domingo Rosado, when Komen Charlotte partnered with more than 400 faith-based organizations to raise breast cancer awareness.

For all of these reasons, I am inspired by Komen Charlotte and the essential role it plays in our community. I am also happy to report that I am finished with my own breast cancer treatment and doing well. Please join me in supporting Komen so that we can work toward similar outcomes for thousands of other moms, sisters and friends in the greater Charlotte area. And if you’re not sure how to get started, consider taking part in the Race for the Cure this October. It is a wonderful chance to learn more, find community, and make your own local impact.