November 2012

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work to inspire Someone You Should Know: Laura Richards Battling breast cancer every day By Elishah Oesch Breast cancer. It's the diagnosis no woman wants to hear, and yet nearly 300,000 American women hear it each year—it's the most common form of cancer among women in the United States. October may have been National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but the fight to find a cure is going on 365 days a year. One local woman has been in the thick of that battle for the past eight years; Laura Richards is the developmental director of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure South Central Wisconsin. She's done ev- erything from volunteering for the annual Race for the Cure, to promoting events, to being an advocate for research and funding. Richards' involvement with Komen and the movement to find a cure began for the same reason many others get involved—she knew several people who had been touched by cancer. "You meet so many people and everyone's affected by breast cancer in some way," she says. As a mother to three daughters, Richards adds that she never wants her own daughters to have to fight breast cancer. Rather, she wants a future for them where cancer does not exist—or, at least a future where treatment is more readily available. Richards explains that most of the Komen funding is released lo- cally so everyone has a chance at the best treatment possible. In fact, 75 percent of all the money raised here, stays here. Komen has also been the sole provider for the Treatment Access Fund in Wisconsin for the past eleven years, which helps women get access to breast cancer screenings, diagnosis and treatment. That's something Richards is particularly proud of and, in part, responsible for. "Without our services and without women fighting for others to get those services, women won't have hope in the future," she says. But, good health and hope also start on a personal level. "You have to be your own advocate," Richards says. "If you no- tice something abnormal, go out and get screened." In addition, Richards maintains that despite recent debates on the issue, early detection is still the key to fighting the disease. "At Komen, we say get a mammogram at age 40. If you have a family history, then it's recommended earlier." Richards is and will remain a strong voice for research, funding and advocacy to find a cure for breast cancer. She says the world has every reason to believe that a cure is coming. "You definitely know that some day the doctors and research- For more information visit Elishah Oesch is co-anchor at WKOW 27s Wake up Wisconsin. Find more at ••• ers are going to find a cure and it's going to affect all cancers," she says. Until that day comes, Richards will continue to keep up the fight. Nonprofit Profile: Susan G. Komen South Central Wisconsin What it is: A group of employees, volunteers and sponsors affiliated with the global organization dedi- cated to curing breast cancer. What they do: In pursuit of ending breast cancer, the organization works to empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find a cure. How to get involved: Volunteers are the heart of the organization, but event participants also raise awareness and funds. For more information: Call (608) 836-1083 or visit 38 BRAVA Magazine November 2012 Photo by Shanna Wolf

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