Runners line up at the 17th Annual Komen San Antonio Race for the Cure in 2014. Credit: Facebook / Susan G. Komen San Antonio

Susan G. Komen San Antonio will end all local operations over the next several months, dissolving the local entity that provided millions of dollars for breast cancer screening, treatment, education, and research over more than two decades.

The national Susan G. Komen organization, based in Dallas, announced in April plans to centralize its operations and consolidate its local affiliates, focusing more squarely on research and direct patient support. Komen San Antonio’s operations will end in early 2021, the local group said in a statement last week. 

Komen is the nation’s leading nonprofit focusing on breast cancer research, prevention, and treatment. Known for its Race for the Cure fundraising events, the organization also works to eliminate health care disparities for lower-income women by increasing access to screening.

The Komen San Antonio board decided to wind down its operations because the national organization couldn’t assure it that local funds raised would impact San Antonio to the extent the board wanted them to, said Kathleen Golden, a Komen San Antonio board member.

“We really have found that we weren’t clearly getting good direction from the headquarters that was going to assure us that all the money that we raised here in San Antonio was going to stay in San Antonio and benefit our community with their new approach [of] taking it all into headquarters,” Golden said. 

In the past, Komen San Antonio had been contractually obligated to give 25 percent of what it raised to the national organization, Golden said.

San Antonio research facilities and cancer-related organizations will still likely receive some of these research grants from the national organization in the future, she added. 

Komen San Antonio was founded in 1997 by breast cancer survivors who felt there was a need in San Antonio to ease the burden of fighting and recovering from the disease. The founders recognized the lack of critical breast cancer support services in the community and established Susan G. Komen San Antonio, an independent affiliate of the national Susan G. Komen organization, to help bridge the gap in vital health care for those most in need.

Board President Cynthia Rosen said this decision is not a reflection of the local organization’s successes in assisting the most vulnerable breast cancer survivors in San Antonio. 

“We’re certainly disappointed, especially during Breast Cancer Awareness month, to have to make this announcement,” said Golden. “But … there are many agencies and community organizations here in San Antonio [that support breast cancer patients].” 

The group recently held one of its annual fundraisers, the More Than Pink Walk, which has raised more than $205,000. The virtual fundraiser’s goal is $375,000 and will continue through the end of the year. The virtual walk invites participants to walk at least 6,000 steps on their own and to log it on an accompanying app.

Golden said she and the other Komen San Antonio board members feel confident they are leaving San Antonio much better equipped to aid breast cancer patients than before the organization was founded. 

Among the local entities receiving grants from Komen San Antonio to help breast cancer patients are Friends of Christa Santa Rosa, the University Health System, the American Cancer Society, and the ThriveWell Cancer Foundation. Others include Wings, Martinez Street Women’s Center, and YWCA San Antonio.

Komen San Antonio will remain operating long enough to dispense all fundraising proceeds into the community, which Golden estimated will take about six months.

As a breast cancer survivor in remission, San Antonio resident Shellie Cechinne said she respects the impact Komen SA has had on helping impoverished women in the community get screened and find resources for treatment.

“I’m glad there are still other organizations breast cancer patients in need can turn to here,” she said.

Lindsey Carnett covers the environment, science and utilities for the San Antonio Report. A native San Antonian, she graduated from Texas A&M University in 2016 with a degree in telecommunication media...