Monday, February 4, 2008

Neel Stallings - Charlotte, NC

It has now been four months since the Global Advocate Summit in Budapest, Hungary, so I’ve had time to reflect on what happened there and what it meant to me.

When I got the news that I had been chosen as a delegate, I was absolutely elated. What a fabulous opportunity to meet other advocates from around the world and discuss how to work together towards a world without breast cancer.

Additionally, when I was asked to be a facilitator for one of the breakout sessions, “Making the Case for Early Detection,” I was truly honored, and I knew I had a big job ahead of me. Early detection is so important – after all, it saved my sister and me, both breast cancer survivors. I wanted to ensure that everyone in this session participated and shared their knowledge and that we all left with a plan of action.

The Summit itself far exceeded my expectations, which were already extremely high. The presentations were both motivational and sobering. On the one hand, we could feel proud about all of the advances that have been made in this field. On the other hand, there are still so many struggles, myths, unnecessary deaths, etc. that people around the world face on a daily basis. My heart ached when I heard some of the stories, and my resolve to continue fighting this horrible disease was definitely strengthened.

The breakout session was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had as a facilitator. There were eight countries represented, and the information and encouragement that was shared was powerful. I feel like we all bonded during the session, and I knew that we would stay in touch with each other and help each other, regardless of the miles between us.

I left the Summit feeling optimistic and hopeful, because I had met people from around the world who were dynamic and clearly committed to ending breast cancer forever. I felt like I was in the company of giants, and it was both exciting and humbling. My own commitment to a world without breast cancer has taken an exponential leap, thanks to the Global Advocate Summit. Thank you, Komen…what a gift!

Monday, October 22, 2007

What a special few days we all spent in Budapest!

There was such a vibe of commitment to the goal we all share --- that of breast cancer advocacy in its many forms.

The Global Advocate Summit programme was stimulating and relevant. It was great to renew friendships and to make new ones. I learnt so much by the sharing of our challenges. We may come from many different countries but frequently the challenges are the same, the only difference is that some countries are further along the advocacy road!

I hope we have the opportunity to meet, learn and share from each other again. Thank you Susan G. Komen for the Cure for all you are doing to assist in the supporting of the many breast cancer efforts taking place globally. What would we do without you!

Best wishes to you all...

Ann Steyn

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I Realized My Dream...

I was overwhelmed with joy when I was chosen to be one of the International delegates at Ignite the promise: Global Advocate Summit in Budapest Hungary. It was a great honor to be part of this historical event. At first I had mixed feelings as to what will transpire out of the meeting. I was encouraged by the delegates’ love to share their vast experiences from their own communities and showing lots of interest to learn about others’. This was very encouraging and gave me a whole meaning of the summit.

As I listened to Nancy during the opening session narrating her childhood experience with her sister Susan G. Komen , through her sister’s breast cancer diagnosis, their promise to find the cure, my mind run 5 years back when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remembered the looming reality of death that hit me when I entered Uganda Cancer Institute, a fear that was re-enforced by high mortalities observed in the wards. Breast cancer patients were obviously in their late stages at presentation. I remembered the inadequacy of equipments in the only cancer centre in Uganda, the absence of a single screening, awareness and educational programs, the difficulty to mention the word “BREAST CANCER” in our communities even in the press! I recalled my promise to change the face of Breast cancer in Uganda. “MY DREAM CAME TRUE”. I gained momentum for the summit, I was further motivated by presentations on advocacy, community education, the implication of breast cancer to the developing world in the next 13years and the importance of global fundraising challenges.

When we sat in small discussion groups to share strategies for our programs, I realized Uganda and other African countries were at the beginning of their struggles against breast cancer, I was however impressed by other delegates’ willingness to work together to help us take off the ground and to ultimately find the cure for breast cancer.

Uganda with a 36% 5 year survivor rate where 85% of breast cancer patients die within 2-3 years of diagnosis. At the end of the summit I saw hope, new opportunities and a greater beginning to advocacy in Uganda. I felt I was more understood and globally accepted!

I sincerely thank Nancy Brinker for her wonderful vision, Susan G. Komen for the cure, Diana and her entire team for this memorable event! I learnt that I was not alone in the struggle against breast cancer but there are great advocates and activists globally working ultimately to find the cure. We will communicate, connect and collaborate to better understand the global impact of breast cancer.

We will find the cure, of course we will!

Gertrude Nakigudde

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Mari Carmen Forgach

Dear all:

My first impression when I was invited to the Global Summit and received the news that I was going to be a delegate was complete elation:

1) After evaluating my credentials, there was a decission I was elected as one in the group of delegates to the event.

2) I thought behind this there was a kind of a mystic reason for the invitation: my Father was Hungarian and as you may infer I immediately tied both events together.

I really worked very hard at organizing and getting everything in order to attend, though my activities are tremendously intense and that makes it more complicated, but I was really enthusiastic about the project. I should tell all of you, my newly acquired friends that relating to the whole of you was a most illuminating experience, in two days I learned far more about advocacy and the extraordinary people that are promoting the cure for breast cancer than I had every been exposed to. I confirmed many of my ideas in terms of my work at breast awarness and also the importance of the detection program that we are implementing in my group. More than ever I came home with the empowerment that I observed in all of you and it has given me great impulse to insist and apply all this observations that I had with my short but intense relationship in the field with all of you.

I am certain this will prove to be a great advancement for PROSAMA and for its impact in my country. Thanks again to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure and to the Global Summit.

As Louis Pasteur wisely said "My strength resides solely in my tenacity."

Mari Carmen Forgach
Executive Director
Grupo Pro Salud Mamaria "PROSAMA"
Mexico, D.F., Mexico.
P.S. Please send pictures!

Monday, October 15, 2007

I was very inspired...

Dr. Tanya Soldak - Belarus

I arrived to Budapest shortly after coordinating the first breast cancer advocacy conference in my country (Republic of Belarus, in the former Soviet Union). Our landmark conference in Belarus was held on September14 and 15, and was made possible with assistance from Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

I felt very proud to be a global delegate in Budapest. I immediately felt connected to others and realized that I was establishing an important channel of communication for many women from my country to be connected with women around the world. In Belarus, women's grassroots movements are not encouraged by authorities. It is almost impossible to coordinate a public event such as a breast cancer awareness march on the street. In Belarus, therefore, women tend to be very silent about their health and often feel isolated.

In Budapest, I was very inspired as Iwalked on beautiful Pink Chain Bridge, as this was the first time in my life to join together in public with breast cancer activists. To me, the participants of this event are very famous and it was a life-changing experience. I truly hope that one day we will have a similar Pink March in Belarus to help mobilize women there.

With help from all those I met in Budapest, I hope that I will be able to coordinate this event to happen in May (pink month). Thank you to everybody for sharing your stories and caring about our situation in Belarus.

Dr. Tanya Soldak
Medical Director
Resource & Policy Exchange, Inc. (RPX)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Rama Sivaram - Pune, India

Igniting the Promise at Budapest has lit up the canvas of women’s lives across the world. What is painted there is a picture of battles won and lost against breast cancer. The memorable weekend consolidated the bond and the promise between sisters- and the tribe has grown. From Nancy Brinker and Susan Komen, we moved into a global sisterhood of individuals and nations coming together in this first historic summit. And ‘there are miles to go before we sleep.’

When I stepped out of the cab after a long journey, my arms a little sore and feeling like a phantom wing, trying to help navigate the plane with my ROM; I felt a family was waiting for me. It was like homecoming, where I knew I could be open, frank, myself and speak the unspoken. I also knew by the grip of firm handshakes, these are hands of strength and purpose. As we learnt love, affection, camaraderie and humor, we also learnt from one another, through the posters and the talks how to build an arsenal against Breast Cancer.

Thanks to Komen for the Cure who have facilitated in procuring or sharpening our weapons- knowledge and skill, faith, hope and charity and a potent weapon called courage that breaks, silences, barriers and fears.

Memories of Budapest and memories of our personal journey are nestling within and behind my breasts. A voice from within urges me to say there is a little of us in every woman and vice versa.

Mary, when you said, "you just sit and wait for your death,” I am reminded of another line
“I felt a Funeral in my Brain.” Lets together stop the funerals, let’s not stop for death, nor kindly have it stop for us.

I would like to end with Emily Dickinson, one of my favorite woman poet. She says:

To fight aloud, is very brave-
But gallanter, I know
Who charge within the bosom
The Cavalry of Woe

Who win, and nations do not see-
Who fall- and none observe-
Whose dying eyes, No Country
Regards with patriot love-

After all there is a higher purpose in why we got the cancer and why we are together. Let us fight together.

Yours in Passionately Pink

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I was honored to be chosen...

I was honored to be chosen to be one of the US Delegates to the Summit and probably didn't realize the magnitude of what we were doing until I sat in our opening session. Based on the people present I realized we were going to accomplish alot over the course of the weekend. If nothing else we were going to be able to exchange ideas on how to help each other in this global battle that is spreading worldwide.

To listen to the presenters and what we were faced with was both motivating and in a sense discouraging. Then to have the opportunity to listen to some of the delegates and what they were doing in their corners of the world was exciting and again motivating.

I could feel the energy at the summit as we discussed programs and the work that was being done.We in the US feel as if we are in the middle of the battle with breast cancer, but I can see that the delegates from around the world are mostly in the beginning of their battle and we can work together to help them catch up so we're all working together on the same issues.

We have a long way to go in the US, but I am bouyed by the spirit of the people I met in Budapest. My thanks to all the delgates and Susan G. Komen for the Cure for allowing me to be part of this historic event.

Wayne Young