Suzy and Nancy Goodman were more than sisters; they were best friends,
confidantes, and partners in the grand adventure of life. For three
decades, nothing could separate them. Not college, not marriage, and not
miles. Then Suzy got sick. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1977, and three agonizing years later, at age thirty-six, she died.
supposed to be this way. The Goodman girls were raised in postwar
Peoria, Illinois, by parents who believed that small acts of charity
could change the world. Suzy was the big sister—the homecoming queen
with infectious enthusiasm and a generous heart. Nancy was the little
sister—the tomboy with an outsized sense of justice who wanted to right
all wrongs. The sisters shared makeup tips, dating secrets, and plans for
glamorous fantasy careers. They spent one memorable summer in Europe
discovering a big world far from Peoria. They imagined a long life
together—one in which they’d grow old together surrounded by children
and grandchildren. Suzy’s diagnosis shattered that dream.
1977 breast cancer was still shrouded in stigma and shame. Nobody
talked about early detection and mammograms. Nobody could even say the
words “breast” and “cancer” together in polite company, let alone on
television news broadcasts. With Nancy at her side, Suzy endured the
many indignities of cancer treatment, from the grim, soul-killing
waiting rooms to the mistakes of well-meaning but misinformed doctors.
That’s when Suzy began to ask Nancy to promise to end the
silence, to promise to raise money for scientific research, and to promise
to one day cure breast cancer for good. Nancy never dreamed she could fulfill these big, shoot-for-the-moon promises. But she promised, because
this was her beloved sister.
I promise, Suzy … even if it takes the rest of my life.
death—both shocking and senseless—created a deep pain in Nancy that
never fully went away. But she soon found a useful outlet for her grief
and outrage. Armed only with a shoebox filled with the names of
potential donors, Nancy put her formidable fund-raising talents to work
and quickly discovered a groundswell of grassroots support. She was
aided in her mission by the loving tutelage of her husband, restaurant
magnate Norman Brinker, whose dynamic approach to entrepreneurship
became Nancy’s model for running her foundation. Her account of how she
and Norman met, fell in love, and managed to achieve the elusive “true
marriage of equals” is one of the great grown-up love stories among
Nancy’s mission to change the way the world
talked about and treated breast cancer took on added urgency when she
was herself diagnosed with the disease in 1984, a terrifying chapter in
her life that she had long feared. Unlike her sister, Nancy survived and
went on to make Susan G. Komen for the Cure into the most influential
health charity in the country and arguably the world. A pioneering force
in cause-related marketing, SGK turned the pink ribbon into a symbol of
hope everywhere. Each year, millions of people worldwide take part in
SGK Race for the Cure events. And thanks to the more than $1.5 billion
spent by SGK for cutting-edge research and community programs, a breast
cancer diagnosis today is no longer a death sentence. In fact, in the
time since Suzy’s death, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer
has risen from 74 percent to 98 percent.
Promise Me is a
deeply moving story of family and sisterhood, the dramatic “30,000-foot
view” of the democratization of a disease, and a soaring affirmative to
the question: Can one person truly make a difference? Download and start listening now!