Komen North Texas “BigWigs” Prepare to Battle

Twenty-one women are diagnosed with breast cancer every week, and that’s just in the 13 counties that Susan G. Komen North Texas serves. It is the second most common form of cancer in the world, and the most common among women. Despite this grim reality, there is there is plenty of reason for hope. The number of breast cancer survivors in the U.S. now tops three million. If volunteers at Susan G. Komen North Texas have their way, that number will only continue to grow. 

“I realize that people are dying when there is a cure, and that just infuriates me,” Komen North Texas board member Amanda Loughmiller said. “When there is a cure, I think we have a duty as human beings to go and say, ‘Nobody’s dying today.’”

This year Amanda will be one of Komen North Texas’ “BigWigs,” local corporate and community representatives working to meet targeted fundraising goals over the course of six weeks. They are also required to occasionally have fun wearing ridiculous neon pink wigs. The top fundraiser will receive a small trophy and some big bragging rights.

Susan G Komen North Texas BigWigs. Clockwise from top left: Skylar Kaye, Diane Gerstner, Wendy Mahone-Johnson, Meredith Vance, Amanda Loughmiller, Shelia Taylor-Clark // courtesy Susan G Komen
Susan G Komen North Texas BigWigs. Clockwise from top left: Skylar Kaye, Diane Gerstner, Wendy Mahone-Johnson, Meredith Vance, Amanda Loughmiller, Shelia Taylor-Clark // courtesy Susan G Komen

Amanda set her fundraising goal at $10,000. She is inspired by her grandmother, who overcame breast cancer and is still going strong at age 83. While her grandmother was lucky enough to have had good insurance during her illness, Amanda is moved by the fact that there are children out there who may lose a mother simply because their families can’t afford expensive health care. She hopes others will be touched by those stories and donate whatever they can no matter the amount.

Since its founding in 1982, the Komen organization has raised more than $988 million in breast cancer research. One person who learned firsthand the importance of that research is fellow “BigWig” Sheila Taylor-Clark, who is a two-time breast cancer survivor. She first became involved with Komen after her mother-in-law died from breast cancer when she was only 46 years old.

“Losing her made me feel like I really needed to do something,” Sheila said. “She was so young and I was a mess. I wanted to be involved with raising something in her honor.”

Almost exactly a year after her mother-in-law’s death, and just one day before her third wedding anniversary, Sheila received her first breast cancer diagnosis. She thought she wouldn’t make it, but vowed that if she did, she would work to make even more of an impact.

Personal experiences also motivated Diane Gerstner to get involved with the cause.  When Komen North Texas representatives approached her about becoming a “BigWig” three years ago, she agreed without hesitation. Three of her co-workers at InTouch Credit Union have been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. Another colleague lost his wife to the disease.

“One of the things they have taught us is not to be sad, and not to bring them down, but lift them up,” she said. “We realize that it’s a difficult journey. I believe in optimism because I believe it’s as much a key to healing as medicine.”

Diane, who is also on the Komen North Texas board, says the group is constantly strategizing, tying to find ways to give more of themselves. It not just about raising money, but also ensuring that they are providing educational services as well.

The Susan G. Komen North Texas foundation is always looking for help. That could mean anything from raising money to volunteering or just being an advocate for breast health issues. For more information on how to get involved in the fight against breast cancer, visit the link below.

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