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The Dartmouth
April 14, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

DHMC hosts summit on breast cancer research

There is a cure for breast cancer; it just hasn't been found yet. This is the notion that resonated throughout the room at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Leadership Summit at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center on Tuesday, where two aspirant first ladies and Dartmouth's own first lady were in attendance.

"An olive tree takes 70 years to bear fruit," Dwight Randle, the organization's senior scientific advisor, said. "The person who plants that olive tree will not be the one that collects the olives."

Komen for the Cure is currently the largest non-profit financial supporter of breast cancer research in the U.S., according to Hala Moddelmog, president and CEO of the organization. In fact, the group is second only to the federal government in overall aid, having raised nearly $1 billion to date. This year Moddelmog says that $100 million in grant money will be available to applicants.

Moddelmog spoke at length about what her organization has done to raise global awareness of the disease. Komen for the Cure is working with groups such as the World Health Organization to create "global solutions" to the problem. One such effort is the Breast Health Global Initiative, which Komen for the Cure co-sponsors with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. BHGI "strives to develop evidence-based, economically feasible and culturally appropriate guidelines for underdeveloped nations to improve breast-health outcomes," according to a WHO website.

Komen for the Cure's website encourages voters and politicians to help bring breast cancer further into the national political spotlight. Supporters can sign a petition that urges the 2008 presidential candidates to make breast cancer a significant portion of their campaign. Included in the petition are three essential criteria that Komen for the Cure supports: more research, free screening and access to treatment for all.

"We want to make sure that people in our influence vote for candidates that will support research," Moddelmog said.

Two potential first ladies of the United States, Judith Giuliani and Elizabeth Kucinich were in attendance at the summit on Tuesday. Giuliani spoke about her experiences with cancer both as a nurse and with her husband, Republican presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani, who is a survivor of prostate cancer. Kucinich talked about her perspective on health care as a British citizen. Kucinich was highly complimentary of the British health care system, through which cancer patients can receive a prescription for approximately $12, no matter the duration of the medication. They both briefly discussed their respective husbands' plans as the next president of our nation.

"Cancer is one of the ultimate equalizers," Giuliani said. "It doesn't discriminate."

Susan Wright was also in attendence. She talked about the "different hats she wears" in her life as wife of College President James Wright, executive director of the Montgomery Fellows and a breast cancer survivor.

"We all can make a difference in public policy," Wright said. "We all can be activists."

Hala Moddelmog's son, Ty, is a senior at the College.