By Karuna Jaggar, Executive Director
It’s been an incredibly busy year with non-stop rapid response since the Trump administration took office. After the election results were in, I wrote about what the administration would likely mean for our work and our members. We knew we’d be up against efforts to repeal or roll back the Affordable Care Act and that for cancer patients this could mean a return to denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions, lifetime payment caps, and the inability to access healthcare. We knew we’d be facing an even more pro-industry Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a weakened Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). And we knew we’d be confronting a hypermasculine culture where women are too often reduced to breasts and anything less than mainstream standards of beauty are mocked and ridiculed.
Everything we anticipated and more has descended in what often feels like a tsunami of threats to women’s health and wellbeing. Our healthcare system is under relentless attack by the current administration at every turn, most recently through the tax bill. The Food and Drug Administration is not only beholden to Biotech and Big Pharma, now industry executives hold key decision making positions. And agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency are being run by appointees who seek to undermine the very mission of the agency. The administration is waging an assault on our deepest social justice values. Real people are suffering the consequences of bad policies. And many oppressed communities are even more severely impacted.
But we’re not backing down from the fight because we’re at a critical moment in history, when what we do—or don’t do—will not only define who we are as a country, but also whether—and how—we as a country will work to address and end the breast cancer epidemic.
As a radical cancer activist organization, Breast Cancer Action has worked since our founding in 1990 to make sure that women’s health doesn’t get sidelined. Breast Cancer Action was made for times like these. Our role as an independent rapid-response watchdog is an essential part of the larger movement working to address the current threats from an administration that’s targeting women and vulnerable communities, challenging established science, and bolstering corporate control of our regulatory protection agencies.
We’ve never been more urgently needed than at this critical time. Our work is centered on breast cancer, but our impact goes far beyond the disease because we:
- Uphold the highest standards for treatment approvals—which protects everyone who uses any medication or medical device and also promotes innovation—by pushing back on the sale of expensive drugs and devices that haven’t been shown to benefit patients
- Work to eliminate exposures to toxic chemicals that can increase the risk of breast cancer and other diseases and may even interfere with cancer treatments.
- Uplift women’s diverse voices in the face of narratives that exclude marginalized communities as well as push back on corporate profiteering off women’s bodies.
We knew a year ago that our work would be much harder—but even more urgent—and we are that much more committed to creating a just and equitable world for all of us. We’ve spent the year defending access to healthcare and calling for universal healthcare, resisting the appointment of industry executives to regulatory and protection agencies, and calling out the dominate culture that exploits women’s bodies and their breast cancer as a way to boost sales. We have our work cut out for us in the year ahead, but trust that we won’t stop:
- Insisting that social justice is at the forefront of the breast cancer movement.
- Pushing for healthcare standards that are evidence-based and patient centered so women have the information they need to make their own health decisions.
- Working for a healthcare system that provides everyone with access to compassionate, respectful, inclusive, evidence-based, and affordable care.
- Demanding that public health comes before corporate profit in all regulatory agencies and that the precautionary principle is followed.
- Calling for accountability and transparency in breast cancer fundraising and challenging mainstream pink ribbon narratives and culture.
In this issue of our newsletter, you’ll learn how you can join our work with our new Legislative Advocacy Toolkit (Amplify Your Activism with Our New Legislative Toolkit), which provides tools and information for our members to make their voices heard on key breast cancer issues. Read about our 2017 Think Before You Pink® campaign, Knot Our Pink Ribbon, which called on Estée Lauder to stop the betrayal and stop pinkwashing on the 25th anniversary of the pink ribbon (Thank YOU For Pushing Back This Pinktober).
You’ll also find our rapid response to the media on breaking news on treatment issues (When Data Doesn’t Tell the Whole Story: Breast Cancer Death Rate Report; Neratinib’s Approval is a Win for Puma, but not for Patients; and No Surprise: New Study Confirms Five-Year Survival is a Flawed Measure for Hormone Positive Breast Cancer).
And, be sure to listen to my interview for the inaugural Crooked Conversations podcast (by the folks who do Pod Save America), “When did Breast Cancer Awareness Become a Business,” which you’ll find in our new section “Breast Cancer Action In The News.”
Your involvement, activism and support is more important than ever. When we raise our voices together, we can hold the powerful accountable and make meaningful change. With so much on the line right now, we have a moral imperative to fight with everything we have for justice.
Thank you for continuing to stand with us and for all the ways you make Breast Cancer Action a strong force for radical change.