It is time to work together!

I found this great post on Dr. Susan Love’s “Act with Love” blog. She really put in to words everything that is going through my mind in hopes of all of us who care about breast cancer advocacy working together so that we can make a difference. I am glad Dr. Susan Love reminded us that we can have difference’s of opinions on things, yet still work together on mutual projects that we care about. I have always believed that “United we stand, divided we fall.” This post that I re-blogged is so inspiring and well worth reading!

It is time to work together!

By On Wednesday, September 4, 2013 · 

As the summer wanes and October looms, I am struck once again about the fragmentation of the breast cancer advocacy movement.  The history of activism dates well back to 1952 and the American Cancer Society’s Reach to Recovery when a doctor had to give permission for a post mastectomy woman to be seen by a volunteer, lest she be too distressed by the encounter.   The Susan G Komen Foundation (now Komen for the Cure) started in 1983 to raise awareness. Others, such as the Women’s Community Cancer Project (Cambridge, Massachusetts), the Women’s Cancer Resource Center (Oakland, California), Breast Cancer Action (San Francisco), Y Me (Chicago), Mautner Project for Lesbians with Cancer (Washington, D.C.), and NABCO (New York) were focused on education and political action.  As these groups sprang up around the country, it served as a tipping point in the battle for attention to the problem of breast cancer.  These heady days led to the for the formation of the National Breast Coalition (1991), Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program (1992), the National Action Plan on Breast Cancer (1993), the California Breast Cancer Research Program (1993) and the Breast Cancer Stamp (1998). Many good women and men contributed to these early successes and we stand on their shoulders and by their sides.

Now as we head into October, anticipating the arrival of the pink tsunami, in some ways it feels like the original battle to end breast cancer has been co-opted by these annual celebrations of survival.  The messages are incessantly upbeat and rarely mention that many women still go on to metastasize, many still die, and the “survivors” live with a new normal based on the collateral damage caused by their treatments.  My recent experience with Leukemia has made me impatient and dissatisfied with the status quo.  While many programs, such as the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s Deadline 2020 and our own Army of Women, are valiant efforts to move us to the goal, it is going to take more than that to get there.

The goal of ending breast cancer is too important to leave to any one group or approach.  I think it’s time for the breast cancer organizations and foundations to start working together on projects that make sense.   We need to find opportunities to collaborate and speak with one voice. We don’t need to agree on everything, but we do need to rise above our differences to find ways and projects that we can work on collectively. Only by working together will we ever be able to achieve the overriding goal we all share– a future without breast cancer!

11 Replies to “It is time to work together!”

  1. This is so true, but not only of breast cancer. I have a friend who had Ovarian Cancer — that’s a teal ribbon for those who are interested. How often have you seen that color during September — Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month? And it’s such a sneaky disease, with symptoms that are similar to any number of less serious conditions. Cancer is too big for us to be fragmented. Though the cures and treatments are so varied, we need to work together for find them for all of us.


    1. We really do need to come together and especially for ovarian cancer. It is a very sneaky disease and there needs to be a much bigger effort to pull people together in understanding and doing work to see that we make progress with ovarian cancer. Thank you for bringing up this very important point.


        1. I am so appreciative that you wrote about ovarian cancer. There is so much more awareness and emphasis on breast cancer and even though it’s more common, it’s important for everyone to be aware of ovarian cancer. Because ovarian is usually found too late, it’s so horrible. It’s also terrible that people don’t understand that 30% of all breast cancers become metastatic. We all need to work together to find ways to end metastatic disease with more funding and more research so that these cancers stop killing people that we love.


    2. There needs to be so much more attention and funds put in to ovarian cancer. It is such a sneaky disease and robs so many of so much especially because it is often found too late. I absolutely agree with you about working together for treatments for all cancers and that we must all remember that our goal is ultimately to see an end to all of them.


  2. I had read this post and thought it made so much sense. So many different organization cover so many different aspects of cancer – working together, we can only be stronger.


    1. I feel the same way. I was so happy to hear this from Dr. Susan Love because so many people respect her and she truly cares about breast cancer and advocacy. I hope all of this anger at organizations can turn into a real conversation where everyone chooses to mend the mistakes of the past to move forward working together so that we can truthfully accomplish more funds dedicated to metastatic research while we try to find a cure for breast cancer. Catherine, thank you so much for reading and commenting!


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