Grant money, events, cost cuts all help Susan G. Komen North Jersey fight breast cancer

In the U.S., one in eight women and one in 1,000 men will get breast cancer.

Yet, according to Kelly E. Nagle, executive director of Susan G. Komen North Jersey in Parsippany, just under half of those with insurance over the age of 40 will schedule and receive their annual mammogram.

“Many people think that, without a family history, they are not at risk, but the only way to lower one’s risk is to make sure one is able to identify breast cancer early, when it is most treatable,” Nagle said. “Even in the business community, no one is too busy for this test.”

Susan G. Komen North Jersey, which has invested more than $26 million since its inception into the fight against breast cancer, joins the national organization’s goal of reducing the number of breast cancer deaths in the U.S. by 50 percent by 2026.

“By operating locally via our grassroots affiliate model, we can truly understand what our specific needs are here,” Nagle said.

While nearly 25 percent of Susan G. Komen North Jersey’s funding goes toward groundbreaking national research, the other 75 percent is allocated to local programs that provide breast health and breast cancer services to their communities, such as screening, diagnosis, patient navigation, treatment and education programs.

“We complete a community profile every five years where we look at the statistics and conduct interviews to share with medical leaders, so that we know how to best allocate our grant funding in New Jersey,” Nagle said.

The Susan G. Komen foundation began in 1982 with $200 and a shoebox full of potential donor names, following the death of Nancy G. Brinker’s sister from breast cancer at the age of 36.

Now the world’s largest nonprofit source of funding for the fight against breast cancer, the organization has invested more than $2.9 billion in research, community health outreach, advocacy and programs in more than 60 countries.

Susan G. Komen North Jersey, founded in 1997, was able to increase its grant funding by 15 percent this year, Nagle said. The affiliate currently employs seven and relies on the support of hundreds of volunteers.

“Using local donations, we are able to fund education and outreach programs to help make people aware of their risks and encourage them to get screened,” Nagle said. “We also help provide screening and diagnostic tests for those who are underinsured; financial assistance, patient navigation partners, translation services and transportation for those currently undergoing treatment; and we introduce our breast cancer survivors to healthier lifestyles in hopes of reducing their risk of reoccurrence.”

For example, Susan G. Komen North jersey will host its second annual Women’s Wellness Expo on Sept. 29 at the Passaic County Technical Institute in Wayne, where participants can receive free access to health resources and screenings.

“We started in Newark last year as a way to help break down the barriers of care, particularly for those with higher risks and mortality rates in our communities,” Nagle said. “Essex County currently has the highest mortality rate of African-American women with breast cancer in North Jersey.”

Susan G. Komen North Jersey also will host its first annual Pink Champagne lunch, silent auction and fashion show Nov. 7 at Mayfair Farms in West Orange.

“We encourage advocates who are passionate about the fight against breast cancer to continue to heighten awareness, celebrate survivors and help raise funds for our mission,” Nagle said. “We also are currently leading efforts with a coalition to address the high out-of-pocket prescription costs for those with chronic diseases, including breast cancer.

“We are hoping to get legislation passed that will address that issue.”

Susan G. Komen North Jersey serves the counties of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren.

By relocating from Summit to Parsippany in September, the affiliate not only will be more centrally located within the nine northern counties it serves, but also will reduce its occupancy costs by $200,000 over the next five years, Nagle said.

“We are so pleased to be able to reinvest that much needed money into finding a cure for breast cancer,” she said.

For those interested in volunteering, donating, or further resources, please contact Susan G. Komen North Jersey at or 908-277-2904.