Komen raises money and awareness of breast cancer

Eleven years ago, Bernardita Maldonado Gomez was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40. After several mistakes and a lot of pain, doctors performed a mammogram and later a biopsy confirming third-to-fourth stage breast cancer in her left breast.

“The discomfort started in my back, but the doctors didn’t want me to do a mammogram,” Mrs. Gomez said. “They told me it was a swollen lymph node. However, the pain started to get stronger and finally, they found something abnormal. I was diagnosed with cancer in my left breast between the third and fourth stages.”

Last month thousands of people gathered in cities and towns across the country for a walk to raise money to aid care for people like Gomez. In fact, many of the walkers were survivors like her. Many more were family members and friends of those who had suffered the most common and most curable cancer. 

To date, the More Than Pink Walk 2021 has raised over $8,000,000 in over 60 events nationwide with more than 6,000 teams and 68,000 participants. Floridians expect to garner more than the $635,000 they did last year by the end of this month. 

According to the non-profit National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc., every two minutes in the U.S. a person is diagnosed with breast cancer. “We fight alongside patients because they know that one moment can change everything. No one should face breast cancer alone,” Susan G. Komen Foundation highlights on its website. 

Susan G. Komen was a woman who died of metastatic breast cancer in 1979 at age 36. Her sister, Nancy Goodman Brinker, founded the eponymous foundation after Komen’s death three years later. Since then, the non-profit organization has been committed to the search for a cure for breast cancer. It has promoted the More Than Pink Walk every October formerly termed “Race For The Cure” — for decades. 

Aside from the local walk that took place on October 16 in downtown Miami, Susan G. Komen held a national virtual event on October 23 for those who preferred participating online. Similar to the in-person event, it opened with a ceremony celebrating the lives of those affected by breast cancer. There were inspirational stories, fundraising statistics and encouragement to keep donating.

One of those who told her story was Katherine Catapang. Diagnosed at age 28 in December 2020, Catapang praised the Komen organization for all the work they do towards the fight to end breast cancer. “Through organizations such as Susan G. Komen, funds raised have helped support breakthrough research and provide helpful resources to those who have been affected by breast cancer,” Mrs. Catapang said.

“In moments like this, your generosity can make a real difference,” Catapang said regarding all the fundraising efforts made towards Susan G. Komen. 

The manager of national walk teams, Susan Wynne, highlighted that every cancer story has the power to inspire. “Every step we take individually has the collective power to save lives and bring us closer to ending breast cancer,” Wynne said during the virtual event. “The actions we take, big or small, individually and together, count.”

Thus, walkers were encouraged to post their photos to any social media platform along with the hashtags #ONEkomen #racefortheCURE and #morethanPINK.

Gomez took part in a walk in Vancouver, British Columbia. After asking her “what would you say to newly diagnosed individuals if you had the chance,” she said she would tell them not to get depressed nor give up, continue with treatments, have consistency to overcome, connect with undergoing cancer patients, and turn to an organization like she did with Susan G. Komen, in 2013.

“If [people] continue with their treatments, they will survive,” she said.

Astrid Oscorima Requena is a senior at Florida International University majoring in journalism with a minor in English. She is passionate about writing and reporting in both English and Spanish. She enjoys traveling to know more about other cultures. After her studies, she wishes to pursue a career in local media by expanding in the field of broadcasting.

Dagenis Fernandez is getting his bachelor's in journalism at FIU and plans to obtain his master's abroad. He enjoys spending time with loved ones, learning about cultures and telling stories. He hopes to teach at a collegiate level someday.