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Promises for women

One sister's promise spreads across the country in through Susan G. Komen's work.

September 24, 2010|By Mona Shadia, mona.shadia@latimes.com
  • UNITED: At a previous event, breast cancer survivors gather for tribute as they hold pink roses in honor of survivors at the Komen Orange County Race for the Cure in Fashion Island.
UNITED: At a previous event, breast cancer survivors… (DON LEACH, Daily…)

Editor's note: This corrects the spelling of Marica Pendjer's name.

More than a decade ago, while at a Susan G. Komen for the Cure race in Newport Beach, Marica Pendjer saw something that had a profound effect on her life.

She saw a little girl with her dad walking in memory of her mother, whom she lost to breast cancer.

"I'm not a crier, I'm not a super-emotional person, but when they walked by and I realized that this little girl had lost her mom to this disease, my throat just closed up," Pendjer said. "That's when I made the Komen promise my own. That little girl will never know the impact she had on me."

Ever since, Pendjer, 44, has been involved with the foundation and has served in many roles and capacities. This year, Pendjer is chairwoman of the 19th annual Susan G. Komen Orange County Race for the Cure, which is taking place 6:30 a.m. to noon Sunday at the Pacific Life building near Fashion Island in Newport Beach.

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The race attracts more than 30,000 advocates, supporters and cancer survivors, making it the largest fundraising event in Southern California that supports breast-cancer awareness, medical services and research.

Nancy Brinker, the woman who founded Susan G. Komen after promising her dying sister to make a difference in the lives of others battling the disease, will be attending this year's race and sharing her story.

"That promise between the sisters is now a global movement," Pendjer said. "What people need to understand is the prevalence of breast cancer, how many women and men it effects. When the mother or the woman of the family is not doing well, it affects the entire family. This is a disease that touches many, many lives."

Each participant is asked to raise $125 to reach this year's goal: $3.1 million.

At least 75% of the funds go toward breast-cancer awareness programs, medical services for those who are uninsured or underinsured, and other local grants for breast health organizations. The rest goes toward the Komen Award and Research Grant Program for cure research.

Nancy Enomoto is a 15-year breast cancer survivor. Loneliness and fear was all that occupied her mind when she heard the word cancer.

"That's all I heard," she said. "My mother and father both died from cancer. I was terrified. I was terrified because of the word. It touched very close to home."

Enomoto, 65, said at the time of her diagnosis, she didn't know where to go for resources.

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