June 8, 2009 at Bethesda Terrace in Central Park, site of the annual Komen NYC Race for the Cure Survivor photograph. From left to right: Dara Richardson-Heron, MD, Jeanne Mullgrav, Esq., Iris Dankner, Michelle Marquez, Esq., and Linda Kahn. © 2009 Mark Jason Photography
Thoughts from the women of Komen Greater NYC on what it means to be a Survivor:
Dara Richardson-Heron, MD, Komen Greater NYC Chief Executive Officer
Being a survivor has given me a newfound and greater appreciation of life. I am truly blessed and fortunate to be a 12-year-and-counting breast cancer survivor running an organization dedicated to helping women get the education, information, care and support they need, often when they wouldn't be able to afford it any other way. Being a survivor means living life to the fullest, sharing my personal story, using my expertise, dedication and passion to advocate for women and families whose lives have been impacted by the devastating diagnosis of breast cancer with the hope that together one day very soon, we will achieve our shared vision of a world without breast cancer.
Jeanne Mullgrav, Esq., Komen Greater NYC Board member
For those of us who are lucky enough to survive, cancer can be a gift. I emerged from my struggle with different priorities, a new appreciation for each day, and a commitment to making each moment on this earth count. Being a survivor helps me appreciate the simple things but it also makes me fiercely impatient with the status quo.
Iris Dankner, Komen Greater NYC Board member, Tickled Pink! co-founder and 2009 Co-Chair, and 2009 Race Co-Chair As a twelve year breast cancer survivor, I've learned to treasure each day and treat it as a bonus. Early detection saved my life and it is one of my goals to raise awareness about this deadly scourge and to persuade all women - especially younger ones - to make sure they are aware of their breasts, have regular clinical exams wit their doctors, and schedule regular mammograms. Beating this horrible disease has led to a greater appreciation of life. I am stronger and more confident. I can truly say that there is life after breast cancer.
Michelle Marquez, Esq., Komen Greater NYC Director of Development
Since my diagnosis four years ago, I have become more than just a Survivor. I believe I am a pillar for other women to lean on, in particular those recently diagnosed who need to know that they can and will overcome the many challenges that this disease will bring into their lives. It is my responsibility also to appreciate every day and live life to the fullest; to ensure that by my actions and deeds, I can make a difference in the fight to eradicate breast cancer once and for all. I lived through breast cancer in my twenties, when my mother was diagnosed and ultimately died from the disease. I knew then that this disease might affect someone in my family. I’m glad that person was me. I intend to live up to my promise that my daughter, sister and nieces will not have to know what it means to be a Survivor. And if they must, then I know that they too will confront this disease with the same dignity and courage that I and all other breast cancer survivors have. It is my hope that I can empower them as I have become empowered to handle all challenges, including a diagnosis of breast cancer, and to live a rich, fulfilling life, knowing that every day matters.
Linda Kahn, Komen Greater NYC Board member, past Board President, and 2009 Awards Luncheon Chair
Being a survivor changed me. It put my life into sharp focus....who is important, what really matters. Like everyone, hearing the word cancer was devastating. But smart caring doctors, amazing family and extraordinary friends and colleagues engulfed me with great humor, monumental love and strong medicine. And I thrived. Almost eight years later, I am compelled to fill each precious day to make a difference - to me and to people I touch. I love more and live more and never forget. How proud and lucky I am to share this bond with survivors everywhere and with our Komen family.