A Promise to BE PINK

When most people hear the word “cancer,” they fear the worst. That’s how I felt when my wife Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 and our lives were changed forever. During that difficult time, I became very involved in our local Tulsa Susan G. Komen® chapter and was glad to know that this organization and cause are also supported by my company,  American Airlines.

There are several organizations that help raise money for breast cancer, but I chose Komen because 75 percent of money raised for Komen in every community stays in that community to further breast health education, breast cancer screening and treatment programs for the uninsured. The other 25 percent goes to research. This also aligns with American’s commitment to fund breast cancer research, which is additional motivation for me to be an advocate among my colleagues. As a Lifetime Promise Partner, American pledged to fund a research grant — a $7.5 million, five-year study of inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) at MD Anderson’s Morgan Welch Clinic in Houston, Texas.

Throughout the year and especially in October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, my American Airlines colleagues and I are extremely involved. We raise donations for and participate in Komen Race for the Cure®, host donut sales and sell T-shirts created by employees and other pink merchandise through which proceeds are donated to Komen. I am honored to work with the most caring and generous people here in Tulsa — each year we set a goal to surpass last year’s fundraising amount.

You may also have seen our eight pink-ribbon planes, which are near and dear to my heart. I was part of the team to arrange volunteers and apply the decal alongside my wife, other American advocates and their families. Those planes represent the one in eight women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

My wife has been cancer-free for seven years now, and every day we are reminded of the importance of raising awareness for the fight against breast cancer. I don’t want anyone to go through what my wife did, and by wearing pink and supporting fundraising opportunities, my goal is to help people remember that early detection is key. It’s the reason why we have more survivors than ever. Our pink items are reminders that women need to get checked regularly.

This year promises to be another successful round of fundraising through our systemwide BE PINK “Walk While You Work” campaign. American and American Eagle’s people are encouraged to walk the equivalent of a 5K (3.1 miles) during their normal work activities on Oct. 15. Employees are also invited to wear pink for our systemwide BE PINK Day.

You, too, can support breast cancer research through American’s Miles for the Cure® campaign with Susan G. Komen, or by giving the gift of travel. For more information, visit aa.com/joinus.

Sattar Hussein is a Technical Crew Chief at American’s Tulsa Maintenance Base. He is a 30-year veteran of American Airlines, proud member of the American Airlines Komen Race for Cure® team, recipient of the Komen Promise of One Award and devoted Papa.

Technical Crew Chief Sattar Hussein, third from left, and a team of advocates spread awareness about breast cancer at a Tulsa event.

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