'OUR DREAM, OUR PROMISE'
Nancy Brinker, the former U.S. chief of protocol, has kept a promise to her late sister for three decades. Ms. Brinker has raised the profile of the fight against breast cancer to a global cause with annual fundraising races and dinners like the one hosted by the ambassador of Kuwait and his wife last week in Washington.
"We have achieved great things in the past 30 years. We have reason to celebrate," Ms. Brinker, herself a breast-cancer survivor, told guests at the dinner at the Kuwaiti Embassy, where she received a leadership award from the embassy and the Kuwait-America Foundation.
Two other breast cancer survivors — Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat; and Maggie Daley, wife of ChicagoMayor Richard M. Daley — also received leadership awards for their work to combat the disease.
Ms. Brinker founded Susan G. Komen for the Cure, named for her sister who died in 1980. The organization has become the internationally recognized leader in promoting funding and research for a cure for breast cancer.
She said she promised her sister that she would "do everything I could to end breast cancer and save others from suffering as she did." She formed the organization two years after her elder sister died.
"We've been first on the ground supporting new research, advocating for better care," Ms. Brinker said.
"We have transformed how the world talks about and treats this disease. And we have helped millions of breast cancer patients become breast cancer survivors, with more research, more early detection, more hope. And we're looking forward to the advances we know we're going to make in the years ahead."
Ms. Brinker, who served as ambassador to Hungary from 2001 to 2003, has helped raise more than $1.5 billion for cancer research and establish cancer outreach efforts in more than 50 countries, with more than 120 affiliated organizations in the United States. More than 1.5 million people worldwide run in the annual Komen Race for the Cure.
"But we're also here because the job is not yet finished," she told the dinner guests. "Not when a woman somewhere in the world dies of this disease every 69 seconds. And not when more than 1.3 million women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year alone.
"In the next 10 years, we're going after the toughest forms of the disease. We're fighting for women, we're educating women — and we're doing it all over the world. We're not going to stop until women everywhere are rid of this disease. That's our dream. That's our promise."
Kuwaiti Ambassador Salem Abdullah al Jaber al Sabah thanked Ms. Brinker for her organization's outreach to his country last year, adding that the Kuwait-American Foundation has "worked hard to end violence, build hospitals and provide education for girls and women throughout the Middle East."
"It is clear to me that we should also — all of us — be involved in ensuring that women throughout the Middle East have access to the information, screening and treatment that will help reduce suffering from this disease. So I thank you for being with us here tonight and am very pleased to honor all of you who work to end breast cancer," he told his dinner guests.
His wife, Sheikha Rima, said Ms. Brinker, Mrs. Kerry and Mrs. Daley were "honored for their courage and their leadership in the fight against breast cancer."
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