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Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | May 30, 2012
From the May 2012 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

She signed on with Komen for the Cure in 2008 as senior vice president of medical and scientific affairs and was promoted to president of the organization just two years later.

Today, although she is leading the largest charity focused on ending breast cancer, when asked what her biggest accomplishment is to date, Thompson’s reply was surprisingly modest. “Like many working women today, just having a healthy, happy family . . . waking up to that every day is the greatest gift.”

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As for professional accomplishments, Thompson has followed the mantra of her boss and the organization’s founder. “Nancy believes if you’re comfortable, you’re failing,” Thompson said. “We simply have so much work to do; it’s difficult to take time to celebrate accomplishments. But as a team, we’re very proud of the job we’ve done to advance the message. We’ve been involved in every major advancement in the fight against breast cancer over the last 30 years. We’ve also expanded our circle to impact more globally. Now, we’re looking to encompass Saudi Arabia, China and probably Brazil. As an organization, we have supported 600,000 mammography screenings and over 100,000 diagnostics.”

While that expansion would be a great boon for women internationally, even at home there’s still, as Thompson alluded, significant work to do. “We published a report where the findings showed about 50 percent of all eligible women are not being screened on an annual basis. These are women 40 and above. By eligible, we mean they’re covered by an employer or Medicare,” she said. “If we catch cancer early, there’s a 98 percent survival rate.”

Part of the problem, Thompson said, is that women generally make their appointments six to eight months out, during a slow business cycle. Yet, six months down the line, perhaps business is humming or family obligations pop up and the screening gets canceled or rescheduled. To combat this, she suggests companies create a “no meeting day” or even just a half-day once a month. A possible option for large companies is to park a mobile mammography unit on the premises and cycle through employees during a workday.

Financially, it costs $120 to screen, but 10 times more to treat. But Thompson
makes a good case of questioning a concentration on dollars and cents. In her words, she’s “proud to be in a country where there’s not a price set on the value of a woman’s life.”

If you’re organization is interested in getting involved with Komen for
the Cure, Thompson suggests looking at your employee base to see if you could be part of a corporate screening base. For more suggestions on ways to get involved, visit the website at komen.org.

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