When her big sister was dying of breast cancer, Nancy G. Brinker made her a promise.
She vowed to end the silence, the stigma and the shame enshrouding a disease that at that time in the late 1970s, no one dared utter out loud. She also promised to cure breast cancer once and for all.
After Susan G. Komen lost her battle with the disease at the age of 36, Brinker set out to make good on her promise, founding Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which has become one of the world's most influential charities for research into the causes and treatment for breast cancer.
More than 30 years after Komen's death, Brinker's memoir, which comes out Tuesday, brings to life the woman whose name has become synonymous with pink ribbons and hope. It also tells the story of Brinker's life and her efforts to build the groundbreaking charity.
Read an excerpt from the book below, and head to the "GMA" Library to find more good reads.
Where Will Meets Way
My waking memories of my sister have grown hazy over the years, but Suzy still passes through my dreams as animate and vivid as a migrating butterfly. Her face is fresh and full of energy, her hair windblown but still beautiful. In a freshly ironed skirt and patent leather ballerina flats, she defies gravity, scrambling over a pile of slick rocks, Roman ruins stacked like unclaimed luggage on a hilly roadside in
Suzy, be careful, I call as she climbs higher.
Oh, Nanny, she waves me off , mugging for the boy with the camera. .
(Boys could never keep their eyes, or cameras, off her.) He tells Suzy to smile. Say queso! But she's already smiling. In studio and fashion photos, she was always slightly Mona Lisa, never haute couture haughty. Almost every candid photograph I have of Suzy seems to have been snapped just as she's bubbling up to giggle, that precise moment when you can see the laughter in her eyes and feel the active upturn of her mouth, but the not- quite sound of it is forever suspended in the air, teasing like the unplayed
eighth note of a full octave. Even in the dream, I ache for the unfinished music of her life.
Back home, Suzy would write something silly on the back of the photo of the Roman ruins— I swear, it was like this when we got here!— while I'd carefully record the date and precise location where the picture was taken. I'm simply not gifted with silliness like Suzy was. I appreciate it as an art form, and I try not to be frustrated by it, but gifted with it? No. I am not.
Suzy wasn't serious or "bookish" like me, but all her teachers loved her, and I always thought of her as the smart one. In addition to her savant silliness, she was gifted with emotional intelligence, empathy, our mother's generous heart, an unfairly fabulous sense of style, and a humming, youthful happiness that made her naturally magnetic. She had a shy side, but people loved her to her dying day because she was just so much fun to be around.