From the Executive Director: Looking Toward, and Creating, BCA’s Future

by Barbara A. Brenner

One of the greatest challenges that BCA faces is doing the work while staying ahead of the game. As we’ve worked to make sure that people have the information they need today, we have always tried to anticipate the next issues in breast cancer and to position ourselves to address them. The result has often been that we have identified new issues before the public was aware of them and helped to frame them in ways that ultimately became a matter of general understanding. Whether the matter is the truth about mammography screening, the environmental links to breast cancer, or the dangers of pills for “preventing” the disease, BCA has led the breast cancer movement in giving people the tools to think about and address emerging issues.

Consistent with this history, BCA is now looking toward and creating a future—for itself and for the breast cancer movement. Some of that future is evident in the new look for this publication, for example. We hope you like it!

Another part of that future is also apparent from the fact that we are giving names to things—like this newsletter—or renaming things so that the public can clearly understand, and be ready to act on, the issues that need to be addressed if BCA is ever to be able to go out of business.

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The BCA Source

If you’ve been reading our newsletter for a while, you may be surprised to see that it now has a name—the BCA Source. The decision to give a name to BCA’s publication was prompted by years of hearing people say it should have one and the fact that, as the organization turned 15 years old, it seemed like a good time to finally put a name on our most important communication tool.

We chose “Source” for the name because our newsletter is, for so many people, the best source of information on breast cancer treatment, politics, and policies. We also chose “Source” because BCA works to get to the bottom of breast cancer issues—from stopping cancer where it starts to what’s really going on in treatment.

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Answers Wanted

For some time we at BCA have been talking about the need to focus breast cancer research on the, tragically, still unanswered questions related to this disease and to make sure that resources are being directed to answer those questions. We published our first reflection on this in 1998 and started referring to the idea as the Rachel Carson Project. (See “Thinking Out Loud—Toward a New Research Strategy” in BCA Newsletter #51, December 1998/January 1999) Since the idea is only in part about the environmental links to breast cancer, we changed the name, and further developed the idea, into the Breast Cancer Puzzle Project. We addressed the questions in the Puzzle Project to the research funders as part of our Think Before You Pink campaign in 2004.

With the Puzzle Project, as with all of BCA’s work, it eventually became clear that the general public needed to better understand the problem in order to be able to take action to fix it. So, we’ve revised these efforts and are launching a new long-term public education campaign calledAnswers Wanted. This campaign is designed to give people information about breast cancer that they’ve never read in the mainstream press or heard about in public discourse and to encourage them to act on the information they learn by pressuring decision makers in policy and research to focus on the unanswered questions related to this disease. Hence the name, Answers Wanted.

Related to the Answers Wanted effort, you’ll find an article in this issue of BCA Source about a new study that is finally starting to look at which women with estrogen- or progesterone-receptor-positive breast cancer will benefit from chemotherapy treatment. Inquiring minds like mine would love to know why we’re just now starting to ask that question in a prospective trial, but it’s a step in the right direction.

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Reaching Out Across the Nation

As we at BCA work to put ourselves out of business, we know that we need the efforts of people all over the United States. BCA is proud to announce the formation of its newly formed National Advisory Council, made up of people from across the country, who work in breast cancer, women’s health, and health policy, who will help to advance BCA’s work as we join forces to address the health needs of women and the people who care about them.

As we look forward to a future where everyone has access to more effective and less toxic breast cancer treatments, and where the environmental links to breast cancer are being eradicated by implementation of the precautionary principle, we know that none of our work would be possible without your activism.

Thanks so much for working with us and for all you do!

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