The Komen Community Challenge Tour

PJ Hamel Health Guide
  • O-BA-MA! O-BA-MA!



    As I write this, my ears are still ringing from 2 hours of standing in the midst of a shouting crowd of mostly young, very enthusiastic, and incredibly loud demonstrators. All eight Democratic Presidential candidates gathered for a debate tonight at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., and the accompanying media circus attracted a throng of supporters to the college green–which, conveniently, is less than half a mile from my house.


    Packed into a fenced-off area, jostling for position in front of the cameras filming for NBC and CNN and every other major station, it was an incredibly energetic scene. Remember the anti-war demonstrations of the early ’70s? This took me right back there. And I was smack-dab in the middle of it all.

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    New Hampshire Komen organizer Beth Richards talks

    strategy with supporter Charlene Gates.


    I’ve lost my bellbottoms, my long hair, and my ability to march all day and party all night, but I haven’t lost my enthusiasm for taking a public stand. Only now, I’m not standing against the Vietnam War or for Civil Rights; my mission is much more personal.


    “Close the Gap: The Komen Community Challenge Tour,” Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s 24-city tour, is challenging all Presidential candidates to “support three achievable goals that will help save lives and help end breast cancer forever:” research, screening, and treatment. “I Vote for the Cure™” is Komen’s grassroots “campaign to educate voters and challenge the presidential candidates to make breast cancer a priority.”


    As the Presidential campaign heats up, Komen is recruiting supporters in each town and city they visit to take up the torch and make their voices heard: We WILL let the candidates know that breast cancer must be a national priority in the next administration.




    We fought our way to the front and took a stand!


    As breast cancer survivors, I think we sometimes get a little complacent. There are lots of foundations and organizations out there looking out for our interests. Komen, of course. The Lance Armstrong Foundation. The American Cancer Society. Maybe we send a donation, or browse through their Web sites. We admire their work–but usually from afar. Tonight I got off my backside and actually did something. I fought my way to the front of a crowd behind MSNBC’s Chris Matthews as he broadcast his show, Hardball.


    I stepped on toes, shoved and elbowed (gently), and made sure me and my pink Komen Community Challenge T-shirt were right in line with the camera as Matthews interviewed Newsweek’s Howard Fineman and Democatic national chairman Howard Dean. Later on, my regular workouts came in handy as I found myself in the midst of a crowd of Hillary and Obama supporters, each trying to get their signs out there for the news cameras. Despite strong efforts from an Obama supporter trying to rip down my Komen placard, I held it high. Proudly.


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    Coming soon to a city near you?


    The Komen Community Challenge is just that: a challenge to all of us to stand up and be counted. To DO something to end breast cancer. To make our voices heard by taking an active part in the political process. And if that means literally taking a stand–fighting for a piece of turf at a political rally, or stepping in front of a news camera–then so be it. This usually mild-mannered woman has had enough of cancer research funds being cut. I’m tired of seeing “the cure” recede farther into the distance, as precious dollars are thrown at a senseless war in the Middle East. It’s time for a change. And I’m determined to help make it happen. How about you?

Published On: September 26, 2007