Today is a day to raise our collective voices.  Today is a day to show our support.  Today is World Cancer Day!

Each year on February 4, World Cancer Day serves as a day people across the globe can unite in a positive and inspiring way under the one banner of cancer. Beginning in 2019, the three-year theme for World Cancer Day is “I Am And I Will” – an empowering call to action urging a personal commitment from each and every one of us to take action in whatever way possible.

At Mary Kay, empowerment is a part of our corporate fabric.  A commitment that dictates our daily decision making.  Our independent sales force is filled with tens of thousands of women who know what it means to be empowered!

As a decades-long supporter of cancer research, we’re taking an opportunity on World Cancer Day to highlight one of our 2018 Mary Kay FoundationSM Cancer Research Grant recipients, Dr. Judith Agudo at Harvard Medical School Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.  We asked Dr. Agudo, Principal Investigator at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School, her thoughts on why global initiatives like World Cancer Day are so important and what she finds most exciting and most challenging about cancer research:


What importance do global awareness days, such as World Cancer Day, have on your research and field? It has impacts at many levels.  It helps to get our work known, it helps to get funds and important resources to keep working, to keep investigating to find how to prevent metastatic disease.  It also helps us feel valued, that our efforts matter and are being seen.  Most importantly, I hope a day like this helps patients and their loved ones see all the efforts that are being made to try to find cures -- that we are advancing and moving forward.”

What do you find most exciting about your work in cancer research? “The most exciting part of doing research in cancer immunology is to be able to uncover genes or molecules that can enhance the efficacy of cancer immunotherapy. The fact that all our work and effort may one day save somebody’s life is so rewarding! I feel I am incredibly lucky to be able to study immune cells, which fascinate me, and at the same time I am working towards a greater good in trying to contribute to finding cures for cancer.”

What do you find most challenging about your work in cancer research?  “Research in general is challenging in many ways, as you are digging into the unknown, trying to discover something new.  But for me, what I find the most challenging is having to worry about things beyond the actual science. I wish I could just focus on the experiments and on discovering targets to induce immune cells to effectively kill cancer cells. However, doing research involves having to get funds. That is stressful and requires a lot of energy. Which is why help from foundations make such a big impact.”

The 2018 grant marks the seventh year that Harvard Medical School has received a grant from The Mary Kay FoundationSM.  With cancer being the second-leading cause of death in women, the Foundation has made it a priority to support research of cancers affecting women.  Each year, the Foundation awards the highly-sought-after grants to top institutions conducting innovative research and since 1996, has awarded more than $28 million in grants to universities and medical centers across the country. 

As we recognize World Cancer Day, we’re reminded of the simple words of inspiration that Mary Kay Ash’s mother told her and she in turn used to encourage millions of women – “You CAN do it.”  And together, we CAN make a difference in the fight against cancer.