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.