By Anne Grant - October 6, 2010
On September 20th, The National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) set a deadline to End Breast Cancer by January 1, 2020. As an NBCC board member, SHARE will be active in this vital work.
As SHARE'S representative on NBCC's board, I was at NBCC's press conference when they made this announcement. It was an emotional and exciting day. As a fifteen year survivor, my advocacy work seemed to be worthwhile but I could feel my personal fire in the belly waning. Not enough meaningful advances have been made. I'm sick of watching friends suffer and I'm sick of going to the funerals of those who died too soon. I'm tired of learning yet another SHARE friend has a recurrence, and for many, decades after their initial diagnosis and treatment. While endocrine treatments and Herceptin are available for some types of breast cancer, I'm appalled that their treatment protocols are still pretty much the same as the ones they had with their initial diagnosis, namely: Surgery, Chemotherapy, and Radiation -- and the treatments are still toxic.
I still mourn the death of my mother from breast cancer in 1960 five days after her 40th birthday. It breaks my heart that my 40 year old daughter feels like a "walking breast cancer time bomb" because her grandmother and mother were diagnosed at 38 and 44. I'm tired and fed up of waiting for the eradication of breast cancer. I know I'm not alone in how I feel.
The statistics are not encouraging. Despite years of raising awareness, screening, fundraising and research, breast cancer incidence and mortality have not changed significantly. Approximately 1.3 million women will be diagnosed this year and more than a half million women will die from the disease. In the United States, the chance of a woman developing breast cancer in her lifetime has increased from about 1 in 11 in 1975 to 1 in 8 today. In the United States breast cancer mortality has been declining but only slightly. In 1991, 117 women died of breast cancer every day. In 2010 that number is 110. If we continue making progress at the current rate, it will take more than 500 years to end breast cancer. What's worse, the world of breast cancer seems to have lost its sense of urgency to end this disease.
NBCC has a plan of action to end breast cancer with new collaborations and catalytic approaches to solve the overarching challenges in breast cancer. We have the tools, information, resources and wisdom to create a global strategy to end breast cancer; setting a deadline is the essential first step to starting a revolution in breast cancer. NBCC will take what is already known and build upon that knowledge for the sole purpose of ending the disease. There will be a sense of urgency, a commitment of resources, a multi-faceted management with a singular focus, and the accountability of a very clear and public deadline.
NBCC has a 20 year history of taking on big issues in breast cancer, challenging business as usual, facing controversy head on and achieving success. Taking part in the fight to end breast cancer is a renewal of advocacy energy for me. Still, this isn't going to be easy. The challenges are enormous. First responses to the 2020 deadline from people I've spoken to have ranged from "How?" to "what about…..?" to "Can we possibly do it?" to "Brilliant!" to "When do we start?" to "How can I help?"
Please visit NBCC's newly created website
BreastCancerDeadline2020.org. Start by watching the "About the deadline" video (the web site's introduction). Vote in the "Choose a side" section. If you vote "no" please give your reasons. Your thoughts and concerns are going to be important in working to end breast cancer. The White Paper section will give you a lot of information on how NBCC came to make this goal and how it will be accomplished (much of the information from this piece comes from that source). Fran Visco's speech in the "The Deadline is a lifeline" will also address questions.
How you can help:
For now, help spread the news by talking about it, emailing your contacts, sharing on Facebook and Tweeting about it.
Anne is a 17-year breast cancer survivor, a SHARELeader, and SHARE's representative on the NBCC Board.