“Shaking the Can:” One Woman’s Komen Journey

By: Olivia Bonevento

Susan G. Komen Central and South Jersey (Komen CSNJ) sets itself apart because those involved with the organization are passionate about raising money for the cause – and Ann Kolber is no exception. Giving back is her favorite thing to do, and it shows. Over the years, she has raised over $50,000 dollars for Komen CSNJ by “shaking” her donation tin can in front of local stores in Monroe Township, New Jersey.

Kolber started fundraising for breast cancer before she was diagnosed herself in 2012. She initially started fundraising because a loved one was diagnosed with breast cancer, and lost her battle with the disease. She walked at charity events in her honor, and continued to walk for three years, even after the original team she was with stopped.

A few years later, Kolber was diagnosed with breast cancer at her annual mammogram.

Her husband, Mitchell Kolber, looked at the doctor and asked, “It’s calcification, right?”

“No,” the doctor replied, “It’s breast cancer.”

The Kolbers didn’t waste any time. Within five minutes of Ann being diagnosed, they found their way to her primary caregiver’s office.

“The doctor was shocked when I told him I had been diagnosed with breast cancer a mere five minutes before I arrived at his office,” said Kolber. “I asked him where he would send his wife if she was going through the same situation, and he said that Rachel Dultz M.D. would be best. I went to her, and she was amazing.”

Although Kolber was quick to take action, she didn’t want to tell anyone what was going on initially.

“My nephew was getting married the October after I was diagnosed,” she said.“I didn’t want to tell him. I told his mother, my sister. I also told my four children. My sons took the ‘let’s get rid of it’ approach, while my daughters were extremely involved. I encouraged both my daughters to get a mammogram, and get tested for the BRCA gene. The test came back negative.”

Kolber was diagnosed with breast cancer at 78. “I thought that was old to be diagnosed,” she said. “I was surprised.”

Regardless of how surprised she was, her husband was supportive every step of the way.

“My family was supportive, but no one was like my husband,” said Kolber. “My children don’t live with us anymore, so it didn’t impact them as much. My husband was the one living it every day with me. He was the one who bought me my paint can, and encouraged me to start fundraising for breast cancer with it.”

Mitchell Kolber attests to his wife’s statement. “Whenever my kids would ask, ‘where’s mom?’ I would say, ‘She’s shaking her can!’”

Kolber had shaken the can for food banks, so why not shake it for breast cancer?

Primarily, Kolber fundraises in Monroe Township, at Antonio’s Pizzeria & Restaurant and in front of Bagel Bazaar.

“The other day, I raised 165 dollars in three hours. That was one of my best days. There are days where I don’t raise as much, but my husband always reminds me that every dollar is one more dollar than I had before for the cause. That helps.”

When asked if it is fulfilling to give back, Kolber said it absolutely is.

“I have thin skin, so it is hard sometimes, but giving back to Komen is one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done,” said Kolber.

Giving back, and loving Komen, is easy. Join Kolber on her mission to end breast cancer forever by getting involved with Komen CSNJ’s Race for the Cure, held on Sunday, November 5, 2017 at Six Flags Great Adventure. Visit www.komencsnj.org/race to get involved.

To learn more about Kolber, and support her on her fundraising journey, please visit her website: bit.ly/KomenCSNJAnn


Olivia Bonevento is a featured guest blogger for Komen CSNJ. She lives at the Jersey Shore and is currently a student at a liberal arts college in Pennsylvania. Read more about Olivia on her personal blog — oliviabonevento.wordpress.com.