First Lady Deborah Bryant Takes Steps to Help Cure Breast Cancer

The First Lady Deborah Bryant is directly involved with Susan G. Komen for the Cure® sending a strong and positive message to Mississippi.

Deborah BryantA heartfelt source of inspiration for Mississippi’s First Lady comes from personal experiences. Thirty-two years ago Susan Goodman Komen passed away at the young age of 36 from breast cancer. She had been diagnosed only three years prior. Four years later, inspired by a promise to her sister, Nancy Goodman Brinker launched The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation® now officially known as Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, and also referred to simply as Komen. Today, Komen has become the largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists in the nation and has invested nearly two billion dollars in health care services, education, advocacy, and research.

Once a year Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure® holds a 5K race and a series of events here in Mississippi with the sole purpose of impacting the fight to prevent, treat and cure breast cancer. Every year in Mississippi, affiliate, the Central MS Steel Magnolias Affiliate of Susan G. Komen® , looks for a special leader to help bring vital momentum to the cause. This year that leader is none other than our new First Lady, Deborah Bryant, who has stepped up to the post of Honorary Chair.

Bryant and her husband are just beginning to settle into their new stations as Governor and First Lady for the State of Mississippi, and they are already setting a strong pace. On February 23rd, Mrs. Bryant joined Dr. Wilma Clopton, board president of the Central MS Steel Magnolias Affiliate of Susan G. Komen® , along with several legislators for a press conference in the State Capitol building announcing the Central MS Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure® 2012. Bryant’s goal as Honorary Chair is to show that Mississippi, already credited with being one of the most giving states in the nation, is vital and will play a significant role in battling this devastating disease.

Fifteen years ago, Bryant’s own mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 74 after her first mammogram. Now a breast cancer survivor, her mother is 89 and never misses an annual exam. Cancer has not been a stranger to her family. Her father, her grandmother and her aunt have all suffered cancer. There was a moment when Bryant personally faced the possibility of breast cancer. She recalls, “I have a family history and I had a personal scare. I had a biopsy. All turned out well. But you never know.” Bryant hopes to bring real energy to this cause in Mississippi, and resources for the 30 county area supported by the Mississippi Steel Magnolias grass roots group. The goal is to bring awareness, early detection, treatment, and support to women and men who are under insured or uninsured.

The earlier this disease is detected, the greater the odds of effective treatment.

Komen serves a critical role for breast cancer patients and their families. Bryant explains, “Komen support groups are a fundamental part of the process. They share stories. They help patients face the disease and find some relief. Some families are just not equipped to handle the situation. Men struggle with what to say or do.” Without Komen, many real families would be lost without the financial and emotional support, making a bad situation worse, or even fatal, where early detection may have saved a life.

Says Bryant, “If you suspect you have have breast cancer, find out. It is probably not going to turn out to be anything. And if it is, it is not the end of the world.” With today’s advances, with support groups like Komen, and with funding to find a cure, the First Lady is right.

Since adopting the cause, Bryant says that she has met people who have been affected by breast cancer almost daily. Bryant goes on to say, “It has brought new awareness to me. You don’t know how many people are out there. When I see people, especially young people, who are diagnosed, it is very hard.” And there are many individuals without insurance who do not have access to, or cannot afford to get exams. “We have to encourage people to seek out treatment and help to provide options.”
Last year the the event raised over $300,000 with 3,000 participants. First Lady Bryant is asking our state to step up and participate at an even greater level this year. Says Bryant, “The participants and sponsors are very passionate!” Individuals and businesses are asked to show Mississippi’s support for the cause through participation, corporate contributions, sponsorships, fundraising and providing goods and services in-kind. “The race is such a positive event. Show up. Give money. Walk. Bring your children. Bring your dogs. Make it a family day. Make it fun!”

“This is a message of hope. We have come so far with research. There are more survivors every day. With early diagnosis, early treatment, and groups like Susan G. Komen for the Cure there to help, there is hope,” says Bryant. Her passion for the cause is abundantly clear.
Today, more than ever, there is a message of hope and an avenue to help support those individuals and families dealing with this serious disease. Come out and make this Mississippi’s best year yet!

“I went from stage I to stage II from the time of my breast cancer diagnosis on November 17th, 2010 to my surgery day on December 21, 2010… I am determined to tell my story in hopes that it may help save someone’s life… I am racing in honor of my aunts, my mother, myself and every woman and man who have been diagnosed with this disease.”-Lashonda Dixon(pictured left) (Whose family history included the genetic strains Brac I and Brac II.)

“I feel like I have so much support from them and they are like a second family to me. We all have one mission: to end breast cancer so that no one else has to tell their family that they have a horrible disease called breast cancer.” -Sharlette Sullivan(pictured right) (After surviving Stage IV of her Breast Cancer experience.)


The 13th Annual Central MS Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure® “Who are you walking, running, or volunteering for”

Honorary Chair First Lady Deborah Bryant of the 13th Annual “Central MS Race for the Cure®” encourages Mississippians to run, walk, or volunteer in our mission to find a cure. The race will be held on April 14, 2012 in downtown Jackson at the War Memorial. Individuals or groups may also get involved by joining the Pink the Town Competition, Three Miles of Men®, Form a Team, Volunteer, Memory Donation or Donation of in-kind Services. We need your help to continue to provide education material, seminars, workshops, health fairs, diagnostic treatment, mammograms, clinical breast exams, and ultra sounds to underinsured and or underserved women.


  • Donations and Information: For more information on how to help and participate visit:
    Or contact the organization:

Over the past 12 years, the Central MS Steel Magnolias Affiliate of Susan G. Komen has been and is independently run and managed. Breast Cancer is an insidious disease; an equal opportunity employer against which some have not a voice. The Central MS Steel Magnolias Affiliate of Susan G. Komen® is that voice. We continue to stand unwaveringly with that support that all may have life with grace and dignity. Our mission is to eradicate breast cancer forever in our 30 county service area. In the last four years, Central MS affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure® raised $1.75 million which has allowed our grantees to provide education material to over 15,000 women, diagnostic treatment to over 94 women, mammograms to over 958 women, clinical breast exams to 810 women and ultra sounds to over 25 women.


  • Komen’s National Breast Care Helpline: To speak to someone about breast health and breast cancer concerns, please call 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636).

Author Bryan Carter is the founding member of thinkWRITE Guild and a contributing writer to County Connections.