Mary Westphal, the executive director of the Susan G. Komen of Northwest Ohio Affiliate, is a very busy woman. We caught up with her in the middle of Race for the Cure Season to discuss some frequently asked questions about the Komen Foundation’s work, research and fundraising efforts.
Komen is synonymous with breast cancer and ultimately, finding a cure. Can you explain where the money raised by supporters and Komen race registrants goes?
Seventy five percent of all funds raised by Susan G. Komen Northwest Ohio remain right here in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan saving local lives; the other 25% of funds raised support research to find the cures. Nothing that is raised locally supports the national office operations or expenses. That means that since 2000, Komen Northwest Ohio has returned more than $10 million to our 24 county service area in support of breast health programs delivering mammograms, clinical breast exams, treatment, patient assistance and awareness to underinsured women and men. Another $2.5 million of everything raised locally has been directed to research to find the cures for breast cancer. The Komen impact is very real and it is right here saving local lives in the fight against breast cancer.
From a research perspective, has there been any recent findings or studies that have brought us closer to a cure for breast cancer?
Since Susan G. Komen was founded in 1982, we have delivered more than $800 million to support breast cancer research grants. Susan G. Komen is the largest non-government funder of breast cancer research in the world and currently Komen is funding 500 active research grants totaling more than $285 million. All of this research has allowed Komen support to touch nearly every major medical breakthrough in the past 32 years including research that led to tamoxifen, Herceptin, kadcyla and more.
While registering and participating in Race for the Cure every September is one way to stay connected with the cause, what can the average person do throughout the year to support breast cancer awareness and cure efforts?
Most importantly, make sure that you and your friends know your risk, get screened, know what is normal for you and seek medical attention if you see any changes in your breasts, and make healthy lifestyle choices. Also, consider making a donation online because every gift makes a difference. Last year, Komen provided funds to deliver more that 6,000 breast health services to women and men who otherwise would have gone without assistance. Currently we are funding 15 local breast health grants including one to ProMedica Cancer Institute for the C.A.R.E.S. program that is helping women without resources receive critical breast health services.
What is one misconception about Komen that you would like to set straight?
Susan G. Komen Northwest Ohio is a 501c3 non-profit organization that is managed by a local governing Board of Directors. Many people hear Susan G. Komen and think large international non-profit. While we do have an international brand and work side-by-side with a strong vision from the headquarters office located in Dallas, Texas, all of the Affiliates have a separate 501c3. The Komen Northwest Ohio Board of Directors sets the strategic direction and makes decisions regarding the local Susan G. Komen Northwest Ohio Affiliate. Susan G. Komen is dedicated to saving lives in the fight against breast cancer. Our vision is that of a world without breast cancer.