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Promise Me by Nancy G. Brinker - Reading Group Guide

Promise Me by Nancy G. Brinker - Reading Group Guide

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Suzy and Nancy Goodman were more than sisters. They were best friends, confidantes, and partners in the grand adventure of life. For three decades, nothing could separate them. Not college, not marriage, not miles. Then Suzy got sick. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1977; three agonizing years later, at thirty-six, she died.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The Goodman girls were raised in postwar Peoria, Illinois, by parents who believed that small acts of charity could change the world. Suzy was the big sister—the homecoming queen with an infectious enthusiasm and a generous heart. Nancy was the little sister—the tomboy with an outsized sense of justice who wanted to right all wrongs. The sisters shared makeup tips, dating secrets, plans for glamorous fantasy careers. They spent one memorable summer in Europe discovering a big world far from Peoria. They imagined a long life together—one in which they’d grow old together surrounded by children and grandchildren.

Suzy’s diagnosis shattered that dream.

In 1977, breast cancer was still shrouded in stigma and shame. Nobody talked about early detection and mammograms. Nobody could even say the words “breast” and “cancer” together in polite company, let alone on television news broadcasts. With Nancy at her side, Suzy endured the many indignities of cancer treatment, from the grim, soul-killing waiting rooms to the mistakes of well-meaning but misinformed doctors. That’s when Suzy began to ask Nancy to promise. To promise to end the silence. To promise to raise money for scientific research. To promise to one day cure breast cancer for good. Big, shoot-for-the-moon promises that Nancy never dreamed she could fulfill. But she promised because this was her beloved sister.

I promise, Suzy. . . . Even if it takes the rest of my life.

Suzy’s death—both shocking and senseless—created a deep pain in Nancy that never fully went away. But she soon found a useful outlet for her grief and outrage. Armed only with a shoebox filled with the names of potential donors, Nancy put her formidable fund-raising talents to work and quickly discovered a groundswell of grassroots support. She was aided in her mission by the loving tutelage of her husband, restaurant magnate Norman Brinker, whose dynamic approach to entrepreneurship became Nancy’s model for running her foundation. Her account of how she and Norman met, fell in love, and managed to achieve the elusive “true marriage of equals” is one of the great grown-up love stories among recent memoirs.

To read more about Promise Me or Nancy G. Brinker please visit Crown Publishing Group at www.crownpublishing.com.
Suzy and Nancy Goodman were more than sisters. They were best friends, confidantes, and partners in the grand adventure of life. For three decades, nothing could separate them. Not college, not marriage, not miles. Then Suzy got sick. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1977; three agonizing years later, at thirty-six, she died.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The Goodman girls were raised in postwar Peoria, Illinois, by parents who believed that small acts of charity could change the world. Suzy was the big sister—the homecoming queen with an infectious enthusiasm and a generous heart. Nancy was the little sister—the tomboy with an outsized sense of justice who wanted to right all wrongs. The sisters shared makeup tips, dating secrets, plans for glamorous fantasy careers. They spent one memorable summer in Europe discovering a big world far from Peoria. They imagined a long life together—one in which they’d grow old together surrounded by children and grandchildren.

Suzy’s diagnosis shattered that dream.

In 1977, breast cancer was still shrouded in stigma and shame. Nobody talked about early detection and mammograms. Nobody could even say the words “breast” and “cancer” together in polite company, let alone on television news broadcasts. With Nancy at her side, Suzy endured the many indignities of cancer treatment, from the grim, soul-killing waiting rooms to the mistakes of well-meaning but misinformed doctors. That’s when Suzy began to ask Nancy to promise. To promise to end the silence. To promise to raise money for scientific research. To promise to one day cure breast cancer for good. Big, shoot-for-the-moon promises that Nancy never dreamed she could fulfill. But she promised because this was her beloved sister.

I promise, Suzy. . . . Even if it takes the rest of my life.

Suzy’s death—both shocking and senseless—created a deep pain in Nancy that never fully went away. But she soon found a useful outlet for her grief and outrage. Armed only with a shoebox filled with the names of potential donors, Nancy put her formidable fund-raising talents to work and quickly discovered a groundswell of grassroots support. She was aided in her mission by the loving tutelage of her husband, restaurant magnate Norman Brinker, whose dynamic approach to entrepreneurship became Nancy’s model for running her foundation. Her account of how she and Norman met, fell in love, and managed to achieve the elusive “true marriage of equals” is one of the great grown-up love stories among recent memoirs.

To read more about Promise Me or Nancy G. Brinker please visit Crown Publishing Group at www.crownpublishing.com.

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Publish date: Sep 14, 2010
Added to Scribd: Sep 27, 2010
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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11/04/2014

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Promise Me
How a Sister’s Love Launched the GlobalMovement to End Breast CancerBy Nancy G. Brinker
READING GROUP GUIDE
Introduction
Susan G. Komen has become ahousehold name. The foundation createdin her memory has turned the pink ribboninto a symbol of hope everywhere. Eachyear, millions of people worldwide takepart in SGK Race for the Cure events,and thanks to the more than $1.5 billioncontributed by SGK for cutting-edgeresearch and community programs, a breast cancer diagnosis today is no longera death sentence.But most Americans know verylittle about Suzy Goodman Komen’slife, or the remarkable promise that ledher sister, Nancy, to transform the wayordinary people can make a difference inthe world.
Promise Me
at last brings thisstory to light. From the Goodman girls’childhood in postwar Peoria, Illinois,to the devastating diagnosis that tookSuzy’s life at age thirty-six, the openingchapters deliver a portrait of a family thatthrived on hope and generosity as the best antidotes to despair. Recounting theimpact of losing her sister, Nancy Brinkercaptures the turning points that madeher a pioneering force in cause-relatedmarketing at a time when the media shiedaway from publishing the words “breastcancer.” She also describes a career thatwove her personal and professional worldstogether in powerful ways, culminatingin her marriage to restaurant magnateNorman Brinker, whose dynamic approachto entrepreneurship became Nancy’smodel for running her foundation.Until fairly recently, breast cancerwas shrouded in stigma. In that climateof shame, Suzy faced her grim prognosis by asking Nancy to promise many things:To end the silence; to raise money forscientific research; to one day cure breastcancer for good. Now at the helm of arguably the most highly regardedhealth-related charity in the world, Nancyinvites us to journey with her in keepingthat promise.Whether you read
Promise Me
withyour book club, with your best friend, orwith your sister, this is a book that is sureto inspire compelling conversations. Wehope that the following topics will enhanceyour experience of this moving memoir.
Topics and Questions for Discussion
1. How would you describe therelationship between Nancy and Suzy?Did the relationship between the sistersresonate for you? Did it remind you of your own relationship with a sister orclose friend? Why or why not?2. How were Nancy and Suzy shaped bythe legacies of cancer in their family?Which messages from their many rolemodels—including their parents—provedto be the most lasting?Crown Archetype WHEREVER BOOKS ARE SOLD SEPTEMBER 14 , 2010
.
TH
For more information please visit www.promisemebynancygrbrinker.com.
 
3. What explains the differences betweenSuzy’s and Nancy’s responses to their owncancer diagnoses? What can we learn fromthe knowledge that women respond toillness in many different ways? How wouldyou describe your approach to doctors andcaring for yourself?4. What did Suzy and Nancy learn aboutthemselves on their memorable tour of Europe? What enabled them to be soadventurous yet so mature?5. A key component to Nancy’s work ispublic awareness and education. Whatsurprising truths did you learn about breast cancer by reading this book? AsNancy shared inspiring stories of survivorsfrom all walks of life, how did theseexperiences compare to those of womenyou have known who confronted a cancerdiagnosis?6. Discuss the medical history presentedin
Promise Me
. What recurring themes didyou notice in the interactions betweenmale doctors and female patients? Whatdoes it take to become an empoweredpatient, whether you’re a man or a woman?7. What was the effect of the time lineNancy used in recounting the chapters of her life? How does it mirror memory toweave the past and the present together?How did her newfound hometown—Dallas—compare to Illinois in reflectingher personality? What locale represents“home” to you?8. From Stanley Marcus to Norman Brinker,Nancy learned marketing from some of themost successful American businessmen.Should the principles change when they’reapplied to the nonprofit world? Whatunique traits did Nancy bring to the table,enabling her to surpass her mentors’success in philanthropy?9. Nancy and Suzy had differentexpectations of marriage, yet they bothexperienced first marriages that weren’tmeant to be. As Nancy describes the menshe has loved at various points in her life,how does she convey her own stages of personal growth? What relationships havedefined you?10. As a couple, Nancy and NormanBrinker seemed to have it all: Passion,companionship, shared interests andvalues, and a deep commitment to giving back. Yet eventually, their marriage ended.Did you find their love story believable?Inspiring? Why do you think they gotdivorced? Do you think the marriage couldhave been saved?11. Suzy’s surgeon was confident that hisapproach would be sufficient in treatingher cancer and never discussed any furthertreatment with her. In contrast, Nancy’sphysicians urged caution, concerned thatscar tissue from another biopsy wouldcloud results of future mammograms, butultimately respected her decisions andformed a treatment plan in partnershipwith her. What did you discover aboutdoctors’ perspectives by reading
PromiseMe
? Do you have open communication anda healthy partnership with your physician?How will improved technology, includingmore predictive mammograms, affect thedoctor-patient dialogue in the future?
Promise Me
By Nancy G. Brinker
Crown Archetype WHEREVER BOOKS ARE SOLD SEPTEMBER 14 , 2010
.
TH
For more information please visit www.promisemebynancygrbrinker.com.

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