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

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Changing Face of Breast Cancer

(Time Magazine Special Report)

Once a disease of the Western world, breast cancer has become a global concern. How women, doctors and communities are fighting back and bringing hope to those in need. Featuring delegates from the Global Advocate Summit. Read the full article.

Faces of Breast Cancer: Portraits of survivors attending the Global Advocate Summit, photographed by Tamas Dezso for TIME. View the slideshow.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Budapest “Lights the Bridge Pink” at Global Breast Cancer Summit

Karen Hughes, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs
(Repost from U.S. State Department Blog at

Most Americans are familiar with the saying, "paint the town red." I was just in Budapest, Hungary, where this weekend they "lit the bridge pink." Giant floodlights bathed the historic Chain Bridge in a soft pink glow as thousands of breast cancer activists gathered to call attention to the fight against breast cancer. The breast cancer movement is going global. Women from five continents and 35 countries were represented at this weekend's Global Summit in Hungary, sponsored by the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

I was there because the State Department is partnering with Komen to bring life saving information about the need for mammograms and breast exams to women in the Middle East, Latin America and other places -- because breast cancer can be treated successfully if it is diagnosed early. I was a news reporter in Dallas, Texas, 25 years ago when my friend Nancy Brinker, a former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Hungary, started Komen to keep a promise to her dying sister, Susan Komen, that she would do everything in her power to find a cure. When Nancy started her work, the newspaper wouldn't print the words "breast cancer" and many women were embarrassed or ashamed to talk about the disease.

Today, more and more American women know about the need for early detection, and 95 percent of women who discover breast cancer in its early stage are survivors. We're now working to share this life saving information and experience with women across the world. It's a great example of what I call the "diplomacy of deeds" -- the concrete ways in which America and Americans are working to improve people's lives, especially in the areas we all care most about: health, education and economic opportunity. It's also a great example of the power of one individual to make a huge difference in the world. We marched across the bridge following the Hungarian Air Force band, which played "When the Saints Go Marching In" along with Hungarian music. Listening to Hungarian women speak out in their native language, seeing women and men from so many different countries join this effort, was an emotional moment. I leaned over to Nancy and whispered, "your sister would be so proud of you." So are her fellow Americans.

Link to U.S. State Department Blog:

My heart beats so fast!

Ibelle Ayala
Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Puerto Rico Affiliate

This summit experience really impacted me a lot. I saw, on each face of the entire wonderful people who participated in this summit, the light of hope and the need of strong actions. Those actions are to become true. I know that this doesn’t end with the end of the summit. It can’t end. We won’t let it end.

I have strong mixed feelings. I suffered with each one of the stories about women around the world being affected by this cause. I suffered for the impotence feeling of all those new good friends, looking for more, waiting for more; seeing in this whole new opportunity the perfect time for a new beginning, feeling stronger just because they feel supported and understood.

I experienced faith in another way; a friendly one. I saw a big door, just starting to open and I feel honored to be on this from the beginning in some way.

To me, it will never be the same. Now I know that we are not alone anymore. I also Know that we have a lot of work to do and even when there’s not an easy way to do it, we are going to make it happened. Of course we will!

Let’s do it! Let’s do it now! Count on me.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Reflections Upon Arriving Home

Dr. Ute Bankamp
KOMEN Deutschland e.V. (KOMEN german affiliate)
Verein für die Heilung von Brustkrebs

I think I was one of the first participants arriving home today after this outstanding and unique first global breast cancer advocate summit – not only with a suitcase full of impressions and business cards but also with the promise to keep in contact and to support each other. Hopefully this is the beginning of a worldwide network of breast cancer advocates!

As an inhabitant of a high developed and high potential country I got a better comprehension about the differences concerning the global breast cancer problems – in particular the lack of (financial) resources, cultural and religious barriers.

Even in Germany we are far away from being able to offer a perfect regime of treatment, psychooncological advice and education to the aproximately 19.000 women and about 400 men who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer each year. But to recognize these strong distinctions I am fraught with deepest gratefulness to have had so much luck on the medical side but also with the lovely support of my husband, my family, friends and colleagues as I was diagnosed myself with breast cancer six years ago.

I would like to incorporate all these valuable experiences into my future activities, first of all the upcoming grants process.

Greatest thanks to Nancy Brinker for her unbelievable mission and Diana and her crew for organizing this outstanding lasting summit! Congratulations!!

With kind regards to all of you!


Sunday, September 30, 2007

Deb Kirkland - Baltimore, MD

Komen for the Cure Global Summit, Budapest, Hungary

I am truly ecstatic to be a part of this global initiative. As a healthcare provider, young survivor, educator, and breast cancer advocate, it has been an amazing experience for me personally, as well as, professionally. Being an advocate locally and federally, I never imagined I would have the opportunity to advocate internationally. Being amongst the other delegates has been a true learning experience--I have gained so much.

We certainly have challenges eliminating disparities in our own communities, but it is an even more remarkable experience to be a part of the Global Summit to learn, identify, share, and help create novel programming ideas for those in greater need. In our country, we are fortunate to have education/awareness and screening, which contributes to early detection and ultimately increases survival. It is shocking to hear first hand the stories from other countries, that do not have simple screenings in place, or who are unable to even speak the words 'breast cancer.'

As young survivors, we are typically information seekers and out of the closet with our diagnoses, therefore it is unimaginable how challenging it must be for other young women who are diagnosed in other countries. As part of the Summit, together we were able to assess the needs due to cultural barriers, limited healthcare options, minimal funding, and few or no early detection tools. This summit has been like a dream. I have had the opportunity to learn, share, network with others from around the world, who all share the same passion.

It really is a small, small world... Just three years ago when I was presenting a poster session at a National Komen Mission Conference in Washington, DC, I met a breast cancer advocate from Africa. We have kept in touch and communicated over the past few years, and what a great surprise to run into her here in Budapest sharing the promise. Another wonderful surprise was running into my OB/GYN in the lobby of the hotel. She delivered both of my children and was the one I turned to when I presented with my own breast cancer lump 5 years ago. She happened to be friends with one of the international delegates and was traveling with her. It is a small world; together when we connect and work together, we can make a difference.

I commend all of those at Komen for the Cure in their global efforts and thanks for having me be a part of it!

Christy Southard - Tulsa, OK

When I was named as a delegate to the Summit, it seemed so far away but the time has gone quickly and here we are! While I was not sure exactly what to expect from the Summit, I knew I would meet incredible people, learn a lot and return home a changed person. I can say that all of this is true.

From the beginning, we've been challenged to communicate, connect and collaborate and that is what we have done. I have seen that no matter where we live or the jobs we do, we all care deeply about the breast cancer movement and to achieving the vision of a world without breast cancer. No matter what language we speak in our homes, here we all speak with one voice and with shared passion. Each country's issues may be packaged a little differently but at the heart, they're all the same - raising awareness, educating on the importance of early detection and providing screening and treamtent.

It is a privilege to participate in the Summit and to represent not only the United States but my state and Affiliate. I look forward to bringing home the information I've gathered and to continue communicating and collaborating with my new friends.

Global Advocacy - Four perspectives

Diana Rowden - Dallas TX, USA

This morning's presentations by Ranjit Kaur of Malaysia, Rama Sivaram of India, Riccardo Masetti, M.D., of Italy, and Mary Onyango from Kenya provided the full spectrum of our approach to advocacy. We began with Ranjit's definition of advocacy and the reason why so many of us become advocates--because we see inadequacy, inequity, and injustice. And our need to break away from what many accept as normalcy in substandard care to create a new normalcy.

Rama next explained that once we become energized as advocates we are ready to educate our communities. Before education can began, we must overcome barriers including awareness, affordability, accessibility and availability, lack of advocacy and ethos. She reminded all of us that cancer is not about dying, but rather fighting and surviving.

My friend Riccardo emphasized the increasing incidence of breast cancer throughout the world--by 2020, 70% of all breast cancer cases will occur in developing countries. It is essential that we enlist all primary care providers--physicians, nurses and social workers--to inform women that breast cancer is curable if detected early.

And Mary cited the need for a global fund for breast cancer given the numerous challenges faced by many nations, including the insufficient political priority and funding amongst donor agencies and governments. There is a need to obtain better incidence and mortality data to energize the global push to make cancer part of national agendas throughout the world.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Breast cancer a global urgency

Jackie Ramos-Calderon - New York, USA

As we embark in the journey to address the breast cancer burden in the world, we must keep in mind that this journey will be long and filled with many road blocks. However, this should not deter us from accomplishing our goals to erradicate breast cancer as a life threatining disease in the world. By educating those in need of services and the providers of medical services eventualy we will accomplish our goals. The key is to persevere and never to give up. We are all in this together.

Welcome from Nancy G. Brinker

Welcome to the 2007 Susan G. Komen for the Cure Global Advocate Summit Blog. Breast cancer advocates from around the world will share their experiences with you as they strategize with more than 50 delegates from around the globe on how to eradicate this devastating disease.

Twenty-five years ago, when I promised my sister, Susan, to do everything in my power to end breast cancer forever, I had no idea where that promise would lead. The global breast cancer movement has made incredible strides since then and our delegates are collaborating for success in their communities and indeed, their countries. We strive to raise awareness, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. Above all, we seek to save lives. Our work cannot exist in a vacuum. We can and must work together if we are to be successful.

It gives me great pleasure to return to Hungary and witness the power of the promise for women all over the world. I look forward to connecting with people whose lives have been forever touched by a breast cancer diagnosis. I want to know what approaches are working in their countries, especially in places where awareness and treatment are nearly non-existent. Most of all, I anticipate that the friendships built at this Summit will last a lifetime so that we can continue our efforts toward a world without breast cancer.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Welcome to the 2007 Susan G. Komen for the Cure Global Advocate Summit Blog! The purpose of this forum is to capture the thoughts and experiences of our esteemed colleagues from around the world as we work together to end breast cancer. This page will be frequently updated as delegates have the opportunity to reflect on each day's events.