BCA’s Plans for the Future

by Barbara Brenner, Executive Director

More than a year ago, BCA began an intensive planning process to develop a five-year strategic plan that would best serve the needs of women with breast cancer, the needs of our members, and the needs of the breast cancer movement. Our process involved asking questions of our members, others in the breast cancer world, and ourselves. With this special issue of the Source,we are pleased to present the results of our planning process and the elements of our plan.

One thing we at BCA have always known is that we view breast cancer differently than the mainstream breast cancer movement. While much of the movement believes we can frame the idea of “The Cure” in medical or scientific terms, BCA does not believe the disease or the epidemic can be cured until the underlying causes of the disease are addressed. We are convinced that we need to reframe the conversation around “The Cure” to include more than exclusively medical or scientific ideas.

On the basis of this conviction, BCA is challenging assumptions about breast cancer and inspiring changes in how we approach the disease. And we have experience in how to do this. Nearly two decades ago, no one talked about environmental causes of breast cancer. We drove that conversation to the mainstream. More recently, we began the conversation about breast cancer cause marketing with our Think Before You Pink campaign, and as a result many more people are asking questions about the “pinking” of this dreaded disease. We now need to propel more changes in the conversation, focusing on the work that remains to be done in the field of treatment, the environment and breast cancer, and inequities in breast cancer outcomes.

The focus of BCA’s work going forward will be in three priority areas. Each is discussed in more detail in the pages that follow. They are:

…………………………………………………………………………………………………

  • Advocating for more effective and less toxic breast cancer treatments by shifting the balance of power in the Food and Drug Administration’s drug approval process away from the pharmaceutical industry and toward the public interest. As a result of this work, we will make sure that women and men with breast cancer have meaningful access to the best available treatments. Our independence from pharmaceutical funding and the work we have done to establish our credibility at the FDA make it possible for us to do this work.
  • Decreasing involuntary environmental exposures that put people at risk for breast cancer. As we have in the past, BCA will continue to advocate for corporate accountability and will engage the corporate community and government agencies to assure that manufacturing sectors are regulated by policies that prohibit these exposures. We have always believed that the concerns of marginalized communities are critically important to addressing environmental issues. We will therefore continue to build bridges between these communities and those who have the power to affect change.
  • Creating awareness that it is not just genetic differences, but social injustices—political, economic, and racial inequities—that lead to disparities in breast cancer outcomes. This understanding must be achieved if we are to be able to work at ending these injustices. While this understanding is beginning to pervade many health fields, the focus on differences in cancer incidence and mortality continues to be dominated by genetic and biological factors. BCA will reframe the breast cancer discussion to focus on inequities, whenever and wherever possible.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………

As the established watchdog of the breast cancer movement, BCA brings experience and passion in promoting the tough conversations and asking the tough questions. Our priorities are in line with our values of truth-telling and advocacy. They respect the fact that BCA’s work touches many constituencies while maintaining an independence that is unique in the breast cancer world. And, most importantly, they give people a variety of levels in which to engage in addressing breast cancer issues and ways in which we can engage them—from the personal to the political.

In the words of our founder Elenore Pred, breast cancer is not just “an individual woman’s tragedy—it is a tragedy for all women. It is a political and economic tragedy played upon our community, national, and world stages.” Elenore’s spirit continues to guide us today, and it is in her spirit that BCA now moves forward into the next phase of our work.

The changes that have happened to date in the breast cancer world took place because people just like you demanded them. Nothing BCA accomplishes is possible without the commitment and energy of many, many people. We trust you will find in our plan something that speaks to your concerns in the breast cancer field, and we look forward to working with you to achieve our ambitious goals.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………

This entry was posted in Articles.