SHARE Goes to the White House

Picture a group of women, carrying huge batches of signed petitions, heading for the White House on a windy, freezing cold November day.

NBCC White House

One of them was Anne Grant (pictured below), a long time SHARE volunteer, support group facilitator and advocate. She is also SHARE's representative on the board of the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC), the umbrella organization for breast cancer advocacy groups.

Anne Grant

In 2010 NBCC launched an initiative "to know how to end breast cancer by 2020."  Anne took the deadline on as her project at SHARE, helping to get signatures on thousands of petitions addressed to the President. The goal was to raise awareness of the deadline and open the doors to the White House.

The message of the petition is that NBCC and SHARE have changed their thinking about treatments and breast cancer and they want the focus to be on cause and how to end metastatic disease. "We are working with scientists to achieve this goal but we wanted the White House to sign on and say 'yes, this is a priority for the Obama administration,'" Anne says.

Citing the view of NBCC, she says, "For the last 25 years, research has focused almost entirely on drug treatments, and the statistics show that this has not led to a significant increase in saving lives. NBCC and SHARE believe research should focus on why people are still getting breast cancer, what causes metastatic disease, and how to end it."

Of the more than 84,000 petitions that were signed, 6,000 of them were collected by SHARE. The White House agreed to meet with the group on November 13. Sixteen representatives of breast cancer advocacy organizations were welcomed into a White House conference room to talk about their concerns with senior White House staffers, who had been briefed and were prepared for a substantive discussion.

It was a great afternoon she recalls. "We talked about what NBCC member organizations were doing to meet the goal. They asked us what we would like and we said what we needed from the White House was support for the Deadline and for NBCC's work to end breast cancer."

The White House is planning a series of health care symposia and scientists, researchers, and representatives from the NBCC will be invited to participate.

"Do we anticipate that we will know how to end breast cancer by 2020? It's a tough deadline and we may not," Anne says, "but we won't give up. The best people in the breast cancer world are collaborating with the larger scientific community on this. They're developing a vaccine, which scientists expect to be in clinical trials within five years. Most people don't realize how incredibly fast that is. We need to continue to keep up this pace if we're going to meet our goal."