HomeNewsSusan G. Komen Philadelphia closes doors

Susan G. Komen Philadelphia closes doors

Komen Philadelphia is closing after 30 years as the organization transitions to one national team.

Diane Miller (left), a metastatic breast cancer survivor, and Elaine Grobman (right), Komen Philadelphia CEO and a Northeast native. TIMES FILE PHOTO

For 30 years, Elaine Grobman created a family much bigger than her own.

Grobman, a native of Oxford Circle, founded Susan G. Komen Philadelphia on Mother’s Day 1991 and led the organization for the last 30 years. It was a mission she and her entire family got involved in, and they’ve met countless lives impacted by breast cancer through Grobman’s work.

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Last week, Komen announced it would be closing its regional affiliates, such as Komen Philadelphia, and transitioning one national organization to continue its mission of educating and raising funds for breast cancer awareness and treatment.

“To be clear: Susan G. Komen is not going anywhere. We are not leaving communities,” Komen President and CEO Paula Schneider said in a statement. “We are evolving, as we should, to ensure we are there for the breast cancer community for years to come.”

For Grobman, it’s been a labor of love every single day.

“I’ve said at weddings, funerals and graduations, Komen has become a part of the fabric of the families that we helped,” Grobman said.

In its 30 years of service, Komen Philadelphia distributed more than $63.7 million in community grants that funded lifesaving programs and funded more than 184,550 free mammograms for women in need. It also contributed about $28 million for breast cancer research.

The national organization was founded by Nancy Brinker in 1982 after her sister, Susan G. Komen, died from breast cancer. Grobman was inspired to kickstart the Philadelphia chapter after meeting Brinker in Texas and learning about Race for the Cure, Komen’s iconic fundraising effort.

Komen Philadelphia distributed funds to health centers around the city, including Fox Chase Cancer Center and Penn Medicine.

“They’ve had a huge part in saving lives of women who wouldn’t have had access otherwise,” said Dr. Ari Brooks, director of the Integrated Breast Center at Penn Medicine.

Brooks has been a Komen Philadelphia community grantee for nearly a decade, and said they provided anywhere from 100 to 1,000 free mammograms for women in need every year, depending on their support.

The transition comes in an effort to shrink costs in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will shift to a completely remote workforce with team members in nearly every state without the expense of paying for office locations.

Komen Philadelphia tried to evolve in recent years, rebranding its Race for the Cure as the More Than Pink Walk in 2019 with mandatory registration as people continued to show up at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the walk without registering.

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the More Than Pink Walk happened in person only once. This year they hosted a virtual event, which still raised half a million dollars in Philadelphia.

Komen will continue to support breast cancer research and advocacy nationwide. A representative from Susan G. Komen’s national headquarters in Texas told the Times they plan to continue the More Than Pink Walk in Philadelphia. It will likely be a virtual event again in 2021, with plans to host it in-person again when it is possible.

The Treatment Assistance Program that provides financial assistance for those undergoing breast cancer treatment and the national hotline 877-GO KOMEN will remain.

Just because Komen Philadelphia is going away doesn’t mean Grobman is going to disappear.

“I will always be an activist involved in every community,” she said. ••

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