Karen Hughes, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, blogs from the Global Breast Cancer Summit in Budapest, Hungary.
Most Americans are familiar with the saying, "paint the town red." I was just in Budapest, Hungary, where this weekend they "lit the bridge pink." Giant floodlights bathed the historic Chain Bridge in a soft pink glow as thousands of breast cancer activists gathered to call attention to the fight against breast cancer. The breast cancer movement is going global. Women from five continents and 35 countries were represented at this weekend's Global Summit in Hungary, sponsored by the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
I was there because the State Department is partnering with Komen to bring life saving information about the need for mammograms and breast exams to women in the Middle East, Latin America and other places -- because breast cancer can be treated successfully if it is diagnosed early. I was a news reporter in Dallas, Texas, 25 years ago when my friend Nancy Brinker, a former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Hungary, started Komen to keep a promise to her dying sister, Susan Komen, that she would do everything in her power to find a cure. When Nancy started her work, the newspaper wouldn't print the words "breast cancer" and many women were embarrassed or ashamed to talk about the disease.
Today, more and more American women know about the need for early detection, and 95 percent of women who discover breast cancer in its early stage are survivors. We're now working to share this life saving information and experience with women across the world. It's a great example of what I call the "diplomacy of deeds" -- the concrete ways in which America and Americans are working to improve people's lives, especially in the areas we all care most about: health, education and economic opportunity. It's also a great example of the power of one individual to make a huge difference in the world. We marched across the bridge following the Hungarian Air Force band, which played "When the Saints Go Marching In" along with Hungarian music. Listening to Hungarian women speak out in their native language, seeing women and men from so many different countries join this effort, was an emotional moment. I leaned over to Nancy and whispered, "your sister would be so proud of you." So are her fellow Americans.