This week was the kickoff the 30th observance of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM). As I conducted numerous media interviews about the continued need for research, education, treatment support, and advocacy, it occurred to me that it would be great if we were talking about breast cancer like this every day of the year.
It's really quite simple. Breast cancer doesn't know (and doesn't care) that it's October, because breast cancer is diagnosed and kills women and men every day of every month of every year. Every 19 seconds, somewhere in the world, a person has a new diagnosis of breast cancer. In the U.S., a woman is diagnosed every two minutes, and one dies every 13 minutes from this terrible disease.
Those are shocking numbers, and behind every one of those numbers is a compelling story. A mother who by sheer will lived long enough to watch a child graduate from high school. A daughter taken too soon from parents who would have given anything to switch places with her. A father carrying a gene mutation that passed breast cancer on to his daughters. A woman without money, without insurance, terrified to seek help until the tumor was breaking through her skin.
I think of these stories in October, and November, and June and April, as does everyone in the breast cancer movement. As much joy as we take in celebrating the women who are cancer-free; as much pride as we take in funding leading research; as much effort as we put into helping the most vulnerable people in our communities, we know that we will be continuing this work until we can shut off the lights and go home, because we've cured and prevented this disease.
Until then, we at Komen will keep up the fight for today and for the future. This week, we announced 116 new research grants for 2014, aimed at answers and better methods for preventing, detecting and treating every form of this disease, and especially metastatic and aggressive forms of this disease.
Our 116 new grants include support for 50 "early-career" researchers. These are recent graduates of doctoral, masters' or baccalaureate programs, and young doctors interested in a career in biomedical research. They are also researchers who need funding to launch their own careers in innovative science.
In a world where resources for medical research funding are dwindling, these young scientists need organizations like Komen to help them continue the next generation of research. That's what we are doing, while continuing to support the eminent physicians and scientists who have made so much progress possible to date.
In our 32 years, Komen has invested nearly $850 million in research, more than any other nonprofit and second only to the U.S. government. It's research that has helped push death rates down by 34 percent since 1990, and helped improve the survivability of this disease. You can read about our exciting new grants here.
We also -- just in time for NBCAM -- launched a redesign of our komen.org website, because ending breast cancer means giving women, men and families the information they need to be empowered patients, with the strength of a community fighting with and for them.
Our komen.org website is a comprehensive resource and enhances the ability of women and men to use the unbiased, up-to-date scientific information on the disease to help them make informed choices about their care, while connecting them to a world of people who care and are available to help them. I hope you'll visit the new komen.org.
I also hope that as October passes, you'll keep the journeys of strong and courageous breast cancer patients in your hearts and thoughts. I hope that you embrace the pink that you will see this month, because pink makes it possible to fund breakthrough research and provide community health for those most in need. It gives women the power of community, and unites us in a common purpose -- a purpose that will still be urgent when this special month is over.
Thank you for all that you may be doing to help women and men with breast cancer, and know that we, too, will be there whenever and wherever we are needed.