|NBCC Call To Action|
The challenge is to end the disease by the year 2020.
When I first heard of the campaign - launched by National Breast Cancer Coalition this past January - my skepticism did an automatic override. My immediate thought was that it was a bold fund-raising campaign.
Still, I was curious and impressed with their conference program. I applied for, and was granted a scholarship to attend, which covers both the registration fee and three-nights shared lodging in DC.
Understanding the science, and the "who's doing what where" in breast cancer is imperative to 1) prevent and 2) completely stop metastatic activity in its tracks. Metastatic cancer, those cancers that relocate and take up residence in the brain, the lungs, the liver, or the bones is what kills close to 40,000 million women per year.
|Patricia Steeg, PhD - NCI|
Into this milieu comes the goal of ending breast cancer by 2020. Here comes my skepticism lurking in the corners.
I never thought that Osama bin Laden would ever be found and killed, either. Even the grandest campaign, the best marketing, the combined passion of advocates, planners and researchers could not have spit out this event in the middle of the conference.
While having a long conversation with Gayle Sulik, PhD, author of Pink Ribbon Blues, Sunday evening about "changing the conversation" about breast cancer, the news broke on CNN that after a ten-year hunt, the 9/11 mastermind had finally been hunted down and killed.
In time we'll eventually hear the work that went into this raid. The planning. Rehearsals. The failures. Redirection. Training and work across agencies, specialties, and capabilities. It was a multi-disciplined approach toward a unified cause: to stomp him out.
It took ten years to track down Osama. Ten years to end breast cancer?
As I flew home last night, outlining the work ahead to communicate what I learned and what I think we need to do, what dawned on me finally was this:
I'd grown complacent. Not in believing that breast cancer(s) - there are many - could be cured, but when or how. Within complacency was another unsettling: how could I believe in finding cures for others if I didn't accept that my remission - my thirteen years of healthy survivorship, was real, too?
This conference ferreted out the last of my own lingering fear. I believe in my health and in so doing I've become a better advocate for the incredible women I met at the conference with cancer and all those I don't know for who are in treatment now.
There was a seek and destroy mission out on Osama Bin Laden. Stick around. We're about to do the same for breast cancer. How will you help?