The following is an interview with Ciarra McEachin, state executive director for Susan G. Komen in Georgia,
Q: What is your role at the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation?
A: I serve in the capacity of state executive director for Susan G. Komen in Georgia and have been with the organization for a little over 2 years. I am a native of Maryland and relocated to Georgia 5 years ago. In my current role, I am responsible for providing community development and leadership throughout the state to support and grow the Komen community.
The foundation was founded in 1982 with a mission to eradicate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease by advancing research, education, screening, and treatment. How has the foundation’s sense of urgency to fulfill its mission been able to remain steadfast for decades?
After nearly four decades of work to increase early detection and improve treatments, breast cancer mortality rates have decreased by 41 percent since 1989. Yet despite all of our progress, more than 44,000 people in the U.S. are expected to die from this disease in 2021. This means that about every 12 minutes, someone in the U.S. is expected to die from this terrible disease. At Susan G. Komen, we remain committed to discovering breakthroughs for the most aggressive and deadly breast cancers, while ensuring that everyone facing breast cancer today can get the care they need.
Q: How are issues such as COVID-19 impacting the mission, if at all, and what has been the foundation’s response?
A: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, breast cancer screenings and treatments were significantly disrupted in the U.S. during the past year, creating additional challenges and barriers for women’s health that will be felt for years to come.
The progress we’ve made in saving lives is in jeopardy without everyone’s support to keep the focus on early detection and support those who are facing the disease today.
Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we are helping people connect with resources and overcome financial barriers to care. Demand to our Breast Care Helpline is up by 35 percent, and demand for our financial assistance has more than doubled.
Q: What is the 2021 Komen Georgia MORE THAN PINK Walk and why is it significant?A: Susan G. Komen’s MORE THAN PINK Walk Georgia is the organization’s signature fundraising event. It will be held in-person once again after being held virtually last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The annual fundraising event will be held in Atlanta at Lenox Square on Saturday, October 9.
The local event brings together a community of hope and compassion to raise funds to save lives from breast cancer. Funds raised support Komen’s advocacy, research investments and support of people facing breast cancer today, ensuring everyone can get the care they need to live.
The MORE THAN PINK Walk is an outdoor event with a short opening ceremony and options for spacing as needed.
Expect a few changes to ensure that we are able to protect the health and safety of our participants, including those who are currently or have recently undergone breast cancer treatment. While masks or proof of vaccinations will not be required, we do recommend that out of respect for the more vulnerable members of our community, those who are unvaccinated wear masks and social distance as much as possible.
While only 20 of the 50 Komen Race and Walk fundraising events will be in-person in 2021 – selected on local conditions and to provide in person options in each region of the country – everyone has the opportunity to participate and make an impact through one of our many virtual events this year.
Pending health conditions, Komen intends to host all events in its Race and Walk series in-person in 2022, although ways to participate in the program and connect with the community from your own home or neighborhood will remain for those who prefer that option.
Q: How can people sign up to join the More Thank Pink Walk?
A: Those interested in joining can visit www. komen.org/georgiawalk to learn more, sign up and begin fundraising.