National Breast Cancer Coalition

October 2014 Op-ed

Note: The italicized parts of this op-ed template are an indication of where you should fill in your own personal story – why you support NBCC and Breast Cancer Deadline 2020® or what committed you to knowing how to end breast cancer.

[As a breast cancer survivor, I do not want to view breast cancer through the pink haze of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It seems more like “feel good about breast cancer month” than anything related to what I went through as someone with breast cancer. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2008. The pain from my surgery, the sickness from the chemotherapy and the psychological torment are not snuffed out by the color pink. I am already painfully aware of breast cancer.]

We are aware that breast cancer exists. That every woman is at risk. But awareness masks the hard truths that cannot be made better with a pink ribbon, like the fact that people are still dying. In fact, in the U.S. alone breast cancer kills about 40,000 women and 450 men each year, and 522,000 women around the world. Awareness alone will never save the women and men we love from breast cancer. But prevention can.

It is time to acknowledge the benefit we have achieved from awareness, and move forward with a new approach. The National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) has set a deadline — Breast Cancer Deadline 2020® — to know how to end breast cancer by January 1, 2020. They know that the only way we can truly end this disease is to make sure no one gets it in the first place.

One of the actions NBCC is taking to know how to prevent breast cancer is working with researchers and patient advocates on the Artemis Project® for a preventive breast cancer vaccine. That's right, a vaccine for breast cancer. NBCC imagines a world where we do not have to worry about toxic treatments because no one needs to be treated. Another component to the Artemis Project® is an initiative that examines metastasis, the process by which cancer spreads and becomes lethal.

Think about it. No one gets breast cancer. No one dies of breast cancer. A vaccine and knowing how to prevent the spread of breast cancer would do the one thing awareness cannot -- save the lives of the women and men we love.

It is time to move from awareness to prevention. If much of the resources that are currently directed at breast cancer awareness were redistributed to prevention, imagine how much faster we could start saving lives. Until then, complacency will be the status quo in breast cancer. It's time to stop advocating for the disease and instead advocate for the deadline. That deadline is January 1, 2020.

[When I was going through my treatment, I was tormented by the thought of my daughter, and generations of women after her, experiencing what I was going through. Buying pink gadgets for 31 days in October is not worth my time and effort. But a deadline for breast cancer that would spare future generations certainly is.]

Help NBCC save lives. They need women and men like you, who are disruptive innovators for social change, to take meaningful action. Learn more about the National Breast Cancer Coalition. Get involved. Sign up for the National Action Network and receive Action Alerts with specific actions that you can take to advance the cause of knowing how to end breast cancer by January 1, 2020. Stay connected by following NBCC on Twitter and like them on Facebook. Do it for yourself. Do it for your loved ones. Do it for humanity. Do it.

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