Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Pink never looked so good

Almost everybody has a breast cancer story.  “My mom had it,” “my sister has it,” “my wife had it,” “I have it.”  As I look at the 30,000 people gathered in photos and videos of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Philadelphia this Mother’s Day, I’m reminded of just how many people have been touched by the disease.

But what really stands out is the number of pink t-shirts, which are worn by the survivors.  Every year, there are more pink t-shirts at the race, and an increasing number of breast cancer stories end with “but now she’s five years cancer-free,” “ten years cancer-free” or “twenty years cancer-free.”

pk|CV: 2013 Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure  2013 SGK Race for a Cure 048
Breast cancer survivors and supporters at Susan G. Komen's Race for the Cure
 Mother's Day, Philadelphia.

And not only are many, many more women breast cancer free, but because of organizations like Susan G. Komen that support breast cancer research, a diagnosis of breast cancer is no longer a death sentence.  In fact, 90 percent of people with breast cancer will survive for at least five years after they are diagnosed.  When the cancer is detected early, the five-year survival rate is 99 percent.

I have been personally involved with Susan G. Komen for the Cure in Philadelphia for several years, and I am so pleased that my employer, UnitedHealthcare, supports the organization.  At this year’s race, UnitedHealthcare sponsored two events.

The first was Children’s Fun Fest, a place for families to gather and enjoy magicians, clowns, music and games.

The second event was one that we launched last year, the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Dash to Make a Difference for kids between ages three and twelve.  “The Dash” was created to help young children take part in making a difference.  No matter their age or the distance they walk or run, “The Dash” teaches a child that they, too, play a part in the fight against breast cancer, and encourages them to grow into adults who will continue the fight against the disease.

This year’s “Dash” leader was Michelle Goglia, vice president of sales at UnitedHealthcare. Michelle and many other UnitedHealthcare employees took part in the day’s activities including holding “The Dash” finish line tape.  According to Michelle, watching this very special group of breast cancer fighters who were there for their moms, neighbors, teachers, aunts and grandmas was like watching the next generation of cancer researchers dash towards a cancer free future.

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