In 1990, a group of women living with breast cancer in the San Francisco Bay Area were seeking information about the causes and treatment of their disease. They encountered unresponsive government agencies and private organizations that provided inadequate, superficial information—not the evidence-based data they were looking for. They got angry and turned that anger into action by forming Breast Cancer Action.
The first meeting was held in founder Elenore Pred’s living room. “We are meeting to organize Breast Cancer Action,” the flyer for the meeting announced. “Our goals are education and political action to prevent a further rise in breast cancer.” One of the group’s first acts was a meeting with the director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to demand that the agency address the breast cancer epidemic. Founding members Elenore Pred, Susan Claymon, Belle Shayer, and Linda Reyes attended this meeting along with other breast cancer activists. Later, following the death of Elenore Pred, Susan Claymon became the first breast cancer activist to address the President’s Cancer Panel in Washington, D.C.
The actions of these founding women framed breast cancer not as an individual problem but as a public health crisis requiring systemic solutions, with an emphasis on empowering women living with and at risk of the disease.
In the years following, the organization grew in size and influence. In 2008, Breast Cancer Action fine-tuned its priorities, creating a Strategic Plan that focused attention on three areas:
- Putting patients before profits in FDA advocacy and breast cancer screening
- Creating healthy environments
- Ending inequities in breast cancer—political, economic, and racial—that lead to disparities in health outcomes
In March 2011, Karuna Jaggar transitioned into the role of executive director of Breast Cancer Action, and her vision for the future is at the heart of our five year strategic plan adopted in spring 2014. Under her leadership, Breast Cancer Action remains a feminist grassroots organization committed to social justice, standing at the forefront of breast cancer activism, and known nationally as the watchdog of the breast cancer movement.
- 30th Anniversary – 2020 marked three decades of working to achieve health justice for people living with and at risk of breast cancer. We used this opportunity to build our community of activists across the country as we transitioned to a virtual organization. We had our first-ever virtual fundraiser, 30 Years of Radical Disruption and Compassionate Resistance, which was attended by more than one hundred members of our community of fierce breast cancer activists from all over the country. We reflected on our past successes with moving member videos, and our special guest speakers inspired us to recommit to the work that lies ahead.
- Think Before You Pink® – This year’s campaign, We Can’t Be Pink’d: Say NO to Pink Policies, was our first-ever four-target campaign, taking on not only the Trump administration’s lack of leadership but directly holding accountable the FDA, the EPA, the Department of Justice, and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). These agencies should have pivotal roles in addressing the breast cancer crisis on a national level, and our members called out their inaction. We coined the term pink policies, which are policies—including a lack of policies—that fail to protect people living with breast cancer and increase breast cancer risk for everyone, especially women, people of color, and low-income people.
- The National Cancer Institute – On Tuesday, November 17, we delivered a letter signed by more than 100 public health and advocacy organizations, federal-level leaders, scientists, doctors, and public health professionals to the NCI urging them to recognize and publicly share the extensive research linking chemical exposure and breast cancer risk; to diversify their editorial board to include toxicologists and environmental epidemiologists; to update their approach to analyzing environmental risks; to broaden the sources of information they use in their reviews; and to meet with breast cancer advocates and researchers to implement an action plan. In response to our 2020 Think Before You Pink campaign, the NCI has agreed to make public the links between environmental exposures and breast cancer risk, thereby changing how this science will be disseminated to researchers, practitioners, and people facing breast cancer.
- Tools and Educational Resources – We continue to work to ensure that people have access to evidence-based information about breast cancer, free of industry influence. Our Toolkit to Navigate Breast Cancer, an indispensable, unbiased resource for those who have been newly diagnosed and their caregivers, provides patient-centered information about the disease so that anyone experiencing breast cancer can make well-informed medical decisions. Our Why We Must Stop Fossil Fuels factsheet called out the oil and gas industry’s global addiction to fossil fuels and its impact on breast cancer risk.
- San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium – Breast Cancer Action has attended the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) for 21 consecutive years, providing patient perspectives to researchers and clinicians, and informing our members about new developments in breast cancer research and treatment. Our staff produced 13 blog posts highlighting our professional, expert analysis. Free of industry funding, we are able to present the truth and we can provide our critical analysis free of charge to anyone who needs it across the country. Through our social media presence and thought leadership, BCAction had over 2 million impressions during the four-day event.
- California Fossil Fuel Work – Throughout the year we engaged in direct action and called on our members to contact decision makers, demanding a phase-out of fossil fuel use. The entire Breast Cancer Action team joined our partners in the Last Chance Alliance at a rally at the state capitol to send Governor Newsom a strong message: stop new fossil fuel projects, drop existing oil production, and roll back setbacks before his annual State of the State address.
- Breast Implants – We joined two interdisciplinary working groups to help draft new language for the FDA’s labeling and informed consent. Our members submitted public comments urging the FDA to strengthen labeling requirements and informed consent procedures and make labeling mandatory. The FDA finalized their labeling recommendations for breast implants and added a new informed consent checklist, but adherence to these guidelines remains voluntary, allowing manufacturers and surgeons to minimize the risks of breast implants. While this does not go far enough, the improvements that were made were due in large part to the collective voice of our activist members. The agency should improve transparency around potential health risks by making mandatory an explicit black boxed warning. Easy-to-understand Patient Informed Consent Checklists must also be required for breast implants.
- Gene Patents – Over ten years ago, Breast Cancer Action joined a lawsuit with the ACLU to challenge Myriad Genetics’ patent on human BRCA genes, an effort that resulted in a win at the Supreme Court in 2013. This year, Congress proposed legislation that would threaten this win and permit companies to patent human genes. Our executive director met with top staff in the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Kamala Harris and urged them to oppose these efforts. We also mobilized our members and encouraged them to use their voices and reach out to their Congressional representatives to stop this dangerous legislation.
- Breast Implants – Breast Cancer Action believes that anyone considering breast implants should be informed about potential risks, which has not, to date, been standard practice. We have been on the forefront of negotiations that would require surgeons to provide every patient considering implants information about potential risks. We worked with the Breast Implant Working Group and the Breast Device Collaborative Community to urge the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop draft language for breast implant black box warnings and patient informed consent. We urged our members to contact the FDA during the public comment period and ask them to strengthen labeling requirements and informed consent procedures and to make labeling mandatory.
- Think Before You Pink – In October 2019 we launched our “Say Never to Forever Chemicals” campaign for Breast Cancer Industry Month. Breast Cancer Action targeted corporate giant 3M to demand that they stop the production, sale, and use of PFAS, known as Forever Chemicals, which may increase the risk of breast cancer. We mobilized thousands of action takers and 25 endorsing partners to help amplify our campaign and send over 3,000 personalized emails directly to 3M’s executives.
- Tools and Educational Resources – Breast Cancer Action published the “What You Need to Know About Metastatic Breast Cancer” information sheet to counter myths about metastatic breast cancer, and center the voices of those most impacted by breast cancer: women whose cancer has metastasized and black women, who are 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than white women.
- The Breast Cancer Action Podcast – We launched our new podcast to transmit our message in a different medium. We interviewed experts and activists and discussed topics that included pinkwashing, environmental links to breast cancer, breast implants, and more.
- Think Before You Pink – In October 2018, Breast Cancer Action launched the “Put the Brakes on Breast Cancer” campaign, which called out Ford Motor Company for driving up the risk of breast cancer and pinkwashing their activities. Ford was touting its commitment to fighting breast cancer with its Warriors in Pink program, while building cars that produce cancer-causing emissions. Twenty influential health and environmental groups endorsed our campaign, which included a day of action at Ford’s Detroit headquarters, where we hand delivered 45,000 petition signatures demanding that Ford stop pinkwashing and commit to producing lower-emission vehicles.
- Climate Action – Breast Cancer Action assumed a leadership role in the Brown’s Last Chance Coalition, which called on California Governor Jerry Brown to protect millions of people from health harms associated with fracking and dangerous drilling. We supported the Oil Money Out campaign and worked side by side with Rootskeeper and other environmental justice organizations to gather more than 75,000 signatures that were delivered to Sacramento. As a result of these efforts, several state representatives pledged to refuse money from oil companies.
- San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium- Breast Cancer Action has attended the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) for 19 consecutive years, providing patient perspectives to researchers and clinicians, and informing our members about new developments in breast cancer research and treatment This year, our executive director was one of the top five Twitter influencers, providing real-time updates and analysis on presented research.
- Independent rapid-response watchdog – In response to the new President and Administration, Breast Cancer Action led the way in defending against threats that targeted women and vulnerable communities. We mobilized members to defend the Affordable Care Act and to push for universal health care. We also provided our members with tools to respond to the threat of budget cuts at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other regulatory agencies, and to challenge nominees for key administration posts who were clearly unqualified, had conflicts of interest, or both.
- Think Before You Pink – Breast Cancer Action’s 2017 Think Before You Pink campaign, “Knot Our Pink Ribbon,” targeted the cosmetics giant Estée Lauder by confronting pinkwashing and highlighting the harms of pink ribbon marketing and culture. On the 25th anniversary of the pink ribbon, we centered people living with breast cancer by calling out distractions and demanding that Estée Lauder stop conducting pink ribbon promotional campaigns that spread empty awareness. We also pressured the company to acknowledge that chemicals in their products may actually increase the risk of breast cancer. The campaign reached more than 20,000 people on social media and more than 1,000 people sent letters to the CEO and executive chairman.
- Tools and Educational Materials – Breast Cancer Action published “Activism for All: Breast Cancer Action’s Legislative Toolkit,” an invaluable, user-friendly guide for those working for change at the local, state, and federal levels. We also produced a series of interactive webinars on a variety of critical topics including: “Oil Wastewater and Food,” “The High Cost of Cancer Drugs”, “Right to Try vs. False Hope”, and “5 Years After the Supreme Court Decision to Overturn Gene Patents: Where do We Stand?”
- Think Before You Pink Our 2017 Think Before You Pink® campaign, “Toxic Isn’t Tasty,” pressured Bee Sweet Citrus and Wonderful Citrus to stop pinkwashing by watering their citrus with oil wastewater. Along with our friends at Center for Food Safety, we delivered nearly 13,000 letters to these citrus companies. Our Community leaders provided critical feedback and supported campaign outreach, and multiple generations of Breast Cancer Action members, cancer fractivists, and farmers created memes and wrote blog posts.
- So Much To Be Done Barbara Brenner was a hell-raiser of the first order. As Breast Cancer Action’s executive director for 15 years, she was a powerful advocate for women living with and at risk of breast cancer. Before Barbara’s diagnosis and untimely death from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in 2013, her retirement plan was to write a book about her experiences as a health activist and gadfly of the breast cancer industry. So Much to Be Done: The Writings of Breast Cancer Activist Barbara Brenner, edited by Barbara Sjoholm, was published in May 2016 by University of Minnesota Press. We hosted a book launch event in San Francisco and BCAction members have also hosted book launch events across the U.S. and in several European countries.
- Climate Action Along with more than 10,000 people in Philadelphia, Breast Cancer Action marched in the Clean Energy Revolution calling for an end to toxic energy sources that use chemicals linked to breast cancer.
- As part of the Protect California Food campaign we delivered a petition with 350,000 signatures to Gov. Jerry Brown in Sacramento calling for an immediate end to oil wastewater irrigation.
- Educational Resources In our ongoing work to educate people about environmental root causes of breast cancer and the anti-fracking movement, we developed a new brochure, ‘Know the Facts About Breast Cancer Risks, Fracking and Dangerous Drilling’. We distributed this to our network, as well as 82 different organizations located across 43 states, and to 135 state and federal legislators across 29 states involved in anti-fracking initiatives
- Celebrating 25 Years! 2015 was our 25th anniversary year, and we celebrated Breast Cancer Action’s many accomplishments as we recommited to all the work that remains to truly address and end the breast cancer epidemic.
- Anti-Fracking This year the Americans Against Fracking coalition, of which we are a founding member, submitted more than 100,000 comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), calling on the agency to tell the truth about its findings on drinking water contamination from fracking. We also mobilized our members to tell their representatives to co-sponsor the Protect Our Public Lands Act, which would ban fracking on public lands, and as part of the Americans Against Fracking coalition, we submitted more than 350,000 petition signatures urging Congress to co-sponsor this Act. We have also taken a lead role in the Californians Against Fracking coalition; California is a key state in the movement to end dangerous drilling
- Think Before You Pink Our 2015 October corporate campaign, “Poison Isn’t Pretty,” pressured the American Cancer Society and the Personal Care Products Council to refuse to allow companies that make toxic cosmetics to participate in their Look Good, Feel Better program, which holds free workshops that give beauty tips and complimentary make-up kits to women in cancer treatment. Nearly a dozen of our partner organizations shared our campaign with their networks, nearly 3,000 people signed letters protesting the hypocrisy of the program, and many of our members shared stories about their experiences with Look Good, Feel Better
- Educational Resources This spring, we published a new educational resource, “4 Questions to Ask Before You Walk for Breast Cancer” to help people think as critically about breast cancer walks and runs as they do about pink ribbon products in the store. Nearly 12,000 people viewed this resource in the first three months after we released it.
Think Before You Pink® – For twelve years, Breast Cancer Action has been demanding transparency and accountability from companies that take part in breast cancer fundraising.
- Launched Stop the Distraction campaign on Oct 1st outlining the 6 fundamental problems with pink ribbon marketing and culture. Over 1700 people contacted 6 corporations that exemplified the key problems with pink ribbons.
- Responded to Komen-Baker Hughes pink drill bit partnership in a coordinated efforts with 4 national organizations CREDO Action, Food and Water Watch, Oil Change International and EcoWatch.
- Over 168,700 signatures were gathered and with Friends of the Harmed and New Voices Pittsburgh, delivered to the Komen offices in Pittsburgh.
- Organized rally with anti-fracking and women’s health activists outside the Pittsburgh Steelers game where Komen was scheduled to accept the Baker Hughes check.
- Featured on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart talking about why pink drill bits “for the cure” are ludicrous and not the solution to the breast cancer epidemic – and why BCAction will never take corporate funding from any company that profits from or contributes to breast cancer.. When global fracking corporation Baker Hughes and breast cancer charity Susan G. Komen created pink drill bits “for the cure”, we ignited an incredible groundswell of grassroots activism: 168,700 outraged people signed a petition demanding the nation’s largest breast cancer charity break ties with the fracking industry and take a stand against this toxic process. We delivered the petitions directly to Susan G. Komen, and protested at the Pittsburgh Steelers football game where Komen was scheduled to accept Baker Hughes’ check for $100,000. Many thanks to our partners at EcoWatch, Oil Change International, Food & Water Watch, CREDO Action, Friends of the Harmed and New Voices Pittsburgh.
- In July, submitted comments demanding that the EPA require transparency on chemicals used in fracking. Also mobilized members to submit their own comments.
- Partnered with Californians Against Fracking on the California March for Real Climate Leadership in Feb. We spoke at the press conference and participated in the march. Almost 8,000 people were in attendance.
- Mobilized 1100 members to tell their Representatives to support important legislation to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on federal public lands. Protect our Public Lands Act of 2015 is the strongest piece of federal legislation against fracking to date.
Lymphedema Treatment Act: In partnership with The Lymphedema Advocacy Group mobilized over 900 members to take action urging their Representatives to support this bill. Also, met with Congresswomen Nancy Pelosi’s staff to gain her support for the bill.
- Mobilized 1500 of our members to write to their Representatives to oppose the Chemicals in Commerce Act.
- Through pressure by Breast Cancer Action members along with our partners two weak chemical reform bills, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA) in the Senate and the Chemicals in Commerce Act in the House both died in committee.
Educational Forum: Hosted forum about the health impacts of fracking for oil and gas titled, “How Fracking Impacts Public Health” at the San Francisco Public Library., featuring Sandra Steingraber, along with representatives from Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments and the California Nurses. Over 150 health professionals, health advocates, environmental activists, and other concerned members of the public attended.
Genetic Testing: Federal Circuit Court unanimously concluded that all of Myriad Genetics’ patent claims were invalid and denied Myriad’s ability to block their competitors’ tests. As a result, Myriad has dropped their lawsuits against other companies and all counter suits have also been dropped.
Community Leaders for Change Program: This program collaboratively educates, empowers and activates community leaders across the country and supports their efforts to develop and implement grassroots advocacy to affect change in the breast cancer epidemic.
- Thirty members, supported and trained by Breast Cancer Action, serve as leaders in their community facilitating discussions and providing education and outreach at health/community fairs, house parties and other community events.
- Collaborated with Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Breast Cancer Fund and Silent Spring Institute on an educational speaking tour in 2 Alaska cities, Breast Cancer Prevention : From the Personal to the Political (Science, Tips and Action)
Information & Resources for People Affected by Breast Cancer: BCAction provides support and education to people around the country affected by breast cancer. Provided information and referrals to nearly 300 people and continue to be a valuable service for people who have been recently diagnosed or are affected by breast cancer.
Free Educational Webinars: BCAction’s webinars provide unbiased, scientific-based information for people to make their own decisions and take action for change. Presented six webinars reaching over 2,200 people in all 50 states and 34 countries.
BCAction’s Educational Materials Provide Concise, Science-Based Information: BCAction’s educational materials deliver a critical analysis of important breast cancer advocacy topics that challenge assumptions about the disease and inspire change to address and end this breast cancer epidemic.
- Added a brand new educational brochure on breast cancer screening, “Should I Get a Mammogram”: Understanding the Benefits and Harms of Routine Breast Cancer Screening, which provides information about breast cancer screening for women of average risk who don’t have a family history of breast cancer, have not been diagnosed with breast cancer, and have no other known risk factors.
- The brochure continues to be widely disseminated to individuals, organizational partners, and the wider audience of breast cancer organizations and key individuals in the field.
Pink Ribbons, Inc. screenings: Canadian documentary, featuring BCAction that offers a thorough analysis of pink ribbons and breast cancer cause marketing campaigns. Staff, board, members and Community Leaders hosted screenings, facilitated discussions and answered questions at 35 screenings of the film across the country
Conferences: Breast Cancer Action’s staff consistently attends & presents at conferences across the country to network with colleagues, build relationships and provide thought leadership on breast cancer advocacy issues. In 2014, we attended and/or presented at five conferences including The National Consortium of Breast Cancers, Black Women for Wellness, American Society of Clinical Oncology, Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program Conference and the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. To read about the important issues for patients from the Symposium, see our coverage in The Source.
Working to End Gene Patents: Breast Cancer Action opposes human gene patenting and believe it’s wrong for one company to have the power to dictate all scientific and medical uses of genes that each of us has in our bodies.
- On April 15th, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in our landmark case challenging Myriad Genetics’ patents on the human “breast cancer” genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2.
- Hosted a rally outside of the Supreme Court joined by 50 activists from 14 states
- On June 13th, the Supreme Court ruled to strike down Myriad Genetics’ patents on the human “breast cancer” genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2—and not just Myriad’s patents, but patents on all human genes.
Think Before You Pink® – For eleven years, Breast Cancer Action has been demanding transparency and accountability from companies that take part in breast cancer fundraising.
- Toxic Time is Up: In the 2013 Think Before You Pink campaign, BCAction demanded legislators pass the strongest toxic chemical regulation to protect us from chemicals linked to health harms, including breast cancer.
- Delivered nearly 32,000 petition signatures to Senator Barbara Boxer’s office demanding strong, meaningful chemical policy reform.
- Pink Ribbons, Inc.: Canadian documentary, featuring BCAction that offers a thorough analysis of pink ribbons and breast cancer cause marketing campaigns.
- Staff, board, members and Community Leaders hosted screenings, facilitated discussions and answered questions at 24 screenings of the film across the country
- Pink Ribbons Plate: AB49 is a bill introduced by California Assembly member Joan Buchanan that seeks to introduce a breast cancer awareness license plate program for the state of California.
- Sent a letter expressing our concern over the language on the proposed pink ribbon license plate, “early detection saves lives” that is misleading to many women and factually inaccurate.
- Over 250 members in California demanded that the bill be changed to better address the needs of women living with and at risk of breast cancer.
- Safe Chemicals Act Advocacy: In July, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing to consider the future of toxic chemical regulation.
- Breast Cancer Action was among the first organizations to take a public stand against the weak chemical reform bill, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA)
- Over 2,000 BCAction members sent letters to encourage their senators to support the strongest chemical reform legislation when it comes to the full Senate to protect public health and the environment.
- Anti-Fracking: BCAction opposes hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” because the practice exposes people to endocrine disruptors and carcinogenic chemicals that are linked to breast cancer.
- In December 2012, we became a founding member of Americans Against Fracking coalition which addresses fracking nation-wide and joined two new anti-fracking coalitions, Stop the Frack Attack Coalition and Californian’s Against Fracking Coalition.
- In collaboration with the Americans Against Fracking coalition, we delivered 1 million comments to President Obama’s Bureau of Land Management rejecting fracking on public lands.
Community Leaders for Change (formerly the Speakers Bureau): This program collaboratively educates, empowers and activates community leaders across the country and supports their efforts to develop and implement grassroots advocacy to affect change in the breast cancer epidemic.
- Twenty-six women, supported and trained by Breast Cancer Action, serve as leaders in their community facilitating discussions and providing education and outreach at health/community fairs, house parties and other community events.
- Since the program’s inception, speakers have organized and participated in nearly 40 community events all across the country.
FDA Advocacy: BCAction supported the approval of the first FDA-approved drug for the neo-adjuvant (before surgery) treatment of breast cancer, Pertuzumab, trade name Perjeta. Data shows (in the metastatic setting) that this drug improves overall survival and has low toxicity.
BCAction Fact Sheets Provide Concise, Science-Based Information: BCAction’s factsheets deliver a critical analysis of important breast cancer advocacy topics that challenge assumptions about the disease and inspire change to address and end this breast cancer epidemic.
- Added three brand new factsheets on Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS), Health is More Than Healthcare: Inequities in Breast Cancer, Disparities in Breast Cancer: Through the Breast Cancer-Care Continuum.
Free Educational Webinars: BCAction’s webinars provide unbiased, scientific-based information for people to make their own decisions and take action for change.
- Presented six webinars reaching nearly 2,000 people in 41 states and 18 countries.
Information & Resources for People Affected by Breast Cancer: BCAction provides support and education to people around the country affected by breast cancer.
- Provided information and referrals to more than 200 people and continues to be a valuable service for people who have been recently diagnosed or are affected by breast cancer.
Conferences: Breast Cancer Action’s staff consistently attend & present at conferences across the country to network with colleagues, build relationships and provide thought leadership on breast cancer advocacy issues.
- In 2013, we attended and/or presented at eleven conferences including California Breast Cancer Research Program’s (CBCRP) conference, The California Prevention Institute of California’s 2nd Annual Breast Cancer and African Americans Conference and the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. To read about the important issues for patients from the Symposium, see our coverage in The Source.
- Think Before You Pink® Activities Changing the Conversation Around Breast Cancer For 10 years, Breast Cancer Action has called for transparency and accountability from companies that take part in breast cancer fundraising. With unprecedented national media coverage, 2012 marks the year that our Think Before You Pink® message gained mainstream approval with a growing acceptance of our long standing views connecting environmental toxins and breast cancer.
- Pink Ribbons, Inc. Partnership This film documents the reality of mainstream breast cancer fundraising and offers a thorough analysis of pink ribbons and cause marketing campaigns. The film draws on and heavily references BCAction’s work. Our staff worked with the director and the National Film Board of Canada on the production of the film as part of our ongoing work to change the conversation around breast cancer. Through a partnership with the distributor, BCAction members, staff and board members had the opportunity to answer questions, facilitate discussions and distribute materials and toolkits, to nearly 1,200 people at over 20 screenings, to complement the film. The film has also screened in an additional 27 communities around the country.
- Wide Distribution of Think Before You Pink® Toolkit The toolkit provides activists with tools to take action to hold pinkwashers accountable, deepens the understanding of the politics of breast cancer, and asks questions to be certain that valuable dollars go towards addressing & ending this epidemic. In 2012, we distributed over 10,000 toolkits to activists around the county.
- Raise a Stink! Campaign – Another Win for Think Before You Pink® Each year, we challenge the way the breast cancer industry does business and hold corporations responsible for the ingredients in their pink ribbons products. In October 2011, more than 5,000 activists joined us in demanding an end to the production of Komen’s pinkwashing perfume containing chemicals of concern, including known hormone disruptors, sold in the name of breast cancer. As a result, in May 2012, Komen ended their partnership with TPR Holdings to produce Promise Me perfume, effectively removing it from the market. This is a huge victory for all of us working to make sure women’s health comes before corporate profits, and that pink ribbon products do not harm our health.
- It’s An Epidemic, Stupid! Our 2012 Think Before You Pink campaign, It’s An Epidemic Stupid!, framed breast cancer as a public health crisis that requires meaningful action on the part of policy makers. We developed Breast Cancer Action’s 2012 Mandate for Government Action, which laid out a vision of what real action on breast cancer should look like and demanded that government leaders recognize their unique role and essential responsibility to address and end the breast cancer epidemic. Thousands of activists from all 50 states (and DC and Puerto Rico!) sent our Mandate to their congressional representatives urging that they commit to stop pinkwashing and support real action to address and end the breast cancer epidemic.
- BCAction Members Continued to Put Pressure on Eli Lilly to End Production of rBGH We believe that it is not enough to encourage the public to buy organic, but for the public to know that all dairy products are free of artificial hormones that may increase their risk of breast cancer. That is why we continue to focus on getting rBGH out of dairy products by targeting Eli Lilly to end the world-wide production of this harmful synthetic hormone. This year, over 1,500 BCAction activists sent a letter to Eli Lilly’s CEO demanding the company sign our Pledge to Prevent Pinkwashing.
- Working to End Gene Patents: Legal Challenge to Myriad’s BRCA 1&2 Gene Patents Moves Forward in the Courts As the advocacy and educational watchdog of the breast cancer movement, we are the only national breast cancer organization named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit against Myraid. We believe that patenting the BRCA 1 & 2 genes materially harms public interest by preventing anyone else from examining the genes and creates barriers to scientific research and medical care relating to breast and ovarian cancer. Myriad’s monopoly both restricts a woman’s access to genetic tests and limits her ability to get second opinions when there is an ambiguous genetic testing result, which happens disproportionately to women from ethnic minorities, including African Americans, Latinas and Asian Americans. After nearly 4 years, the case is headed to the Supreme Court in April 2013 where the issues of breast cancer gene patents will be decided once and for all. As part of this case, BCAction provided testimony about the harm gene patents do to women at a public hearing hosted by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office in March. In addition, 200 BCAction members submitted personalized testimony to the US Patent and Trademark office. With an appeal still pending, we won’t stop until corporate patents on the “breast cancer genes” are a thing of the past.
- Safe Chemicals Act Advocacy We are committed to stopping breast cancer before it starts by eliminating involuntary exposures to chemicals linked to breast cancer. We are proud to partner with the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Coalition to push for the passage of the Safe Chemicals Act, which would put the burden for chemical testing and protection from harm where it belongs—on our regulatory system.
- This year, BCAction members joined over 115,000 activists in the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Coalition to petition Congress for stricter regulation of toxic chemicals.
- Thanks to your efforts in coordination with coalition partners, the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works PASSED the Safe Chemicals Act on to the full Senate for consideration. We will continue to push for full congressional approval of this important legislative reform.
- Methyl Iodide Pulled from US Market BCAction is committed to eliminating environmental toxins that contribute to the breast cancer epidemic. Methyl iodide is a cancer-causing pesticide commonly applied to crops, including strawberries, in the United States. We have always followed the precautionary principle of public health—we should act now with the information we have, instead of waiting until people get sick before we take action. In 2011, BCAction joined farm workers, rural high school students, parents, farmers and thousands of other activists in challenging the undue influence of the pesticide industry on government and public health. In response to this activist pressure, methyl iodide, the pesticide scientists called “one of the most toxic chemicals on earth,” was pulled from the U.S. market by its manufacturer, Arysta LifeScience Corporation in 2012.
- Over 4300 People Participate in BCAction’s Free Educational Webinars BCAction’s webinars provide unbiased, scientific-based information for women to make their own decisions and take action for change. Together with terrific partner organizations and guest presenters; we covered the politics of breast cancer, toxic cosmetics, gene patenting, breast cancer screening, inequities in breast cancer, and a whole lot more. Since the inception of the program in May 2011, we have presented fourteen webinars reaching over 4,300 people in 45 states and 18 countries.
- BCAction Members Pressure Komen to Restore Planned Parenthood Funding Nearly 3,000 BCAction members expressed their outrage when Susan G. Komen for the Cure allowed politics to come before women’s health when they decided to pull funding for Planned Parenthood’s vital healthcare services. The result of BCAction member’s advocacy and that of other women’s health activists was Komen’s decision to restore funding to Planned Parenthood.
- Information & Referrals for People Affected by Breast Cancer BCAction provides support and education to people around the country affected by breast cancer. In 2012, we provided information and referrals to nearly 400 people and continue to be a valuable service for people who have been recently diagnosed or are affected by breast cancer.
- San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium Attendance BCAction continues to bring a patient-focused voice, challenge the status quo and push researchers and clinicians to do better for women at risk of and living with breast cancer. To read about the important issues for patients from the Symposium, such as lower dose radiation, a lack of research on disparities and increasing length of time on Tamoxifen, see our analysis here.
- Safe Cosmetics Act Advocacy As an endorsing member of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, we work to secure the corporate, regulatory, and legislative reforms necessary to eliminate dangerous chemicals from cosmetics and personal care products.
- Congressional Hearing on Cosmetics Over 1,000 members emailed Congress ensuring that consumers and workers were heard at the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Health’s hearing in March 2012 entitled “Examining the Current State of Cosmetics” – the first hearing of its kind in over 30 years.
- Cosmetic Company Makes Change Thanks to our member’s efforts and those of our coalition partners at the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the manufacturing giant Johnson & Johnson agreed to phase out chemicals linked to cancer from its baby and adult cosmetics products.
- BCAction convened the Latina Roundtable with staff from organizations serving Latinas with breast cancer in the Bay Area to determine how we can best work together to achieve health equity.
- BCAction partnered with First Exposures, a local mentorship program for underserved teens. Thirty young photographers attended our presentations on food justice, toxins in our environment, and communities carrying a toxic burden. Students created educational posters, which were exhibited at a well-attended event, “Environmental Injustice: It Ain’t A Pretty Picture”, co-sponsored by BCAction.
- BCAction launched our Raise a Stink! campaign, in response to Susan G. Komen’s perfume called Promise Me, which contains unlisted chemicals that are regulated as toxic and hazardous, have not been adequately evaluated for human safety, and have demonstrated negative health effects. Our campaign asked the public to send letters to Komen, urging it to recall Promise Me perfume and sign BCAction’s Pledge to Prevent Pinkwashing. The campaign:
- Received fantastic media coverage across the United States in Marie Claire magazine, the New York Times, the Dallas Morning News, the Chicago Tribune, and NPR’s On Point, and was picked up by all the major TV stations, among other media outlets
- Activated nearly 5,000 people to send letters to Komen leadership
- Forced Komen to issue a public statement “in response to questions raised about ingredients in Promise Me perfume” and was held accountable for its failure to put patients before profits
- Obtained a promise from Komen to reformulate their Promise Me perfume for 2012
- BCAction rolled out it’s first-ever Think Before You Pink® Toolkit. The content rich toolkit is designed to help consumers understand the issues and concerns surrounding ‘pinkwashing’ and pink ribbon marketing. The toolkit provides readers explicit tips and tools for taking action to ensure that companies stop promoting toxic products in the name of breast cancer. Since its launch, we have been actively distributing the toolkit to our members and partner organizations.
- The ACLU filed a petition seeking Supreme Court review of Myriad Genetics patents on two human genes associated with hereditary breast cancer and ovarian cancer, BRCA1 and BRCA2. BCAction is the only national breast cancer organization that has signed on as a plaintiff in this suit against Myriad Genetics.
- After years of advocacy by BCAction against approval of the drug Avastin, the FDA revoked the use of Avastin for metastatic breast cancer based on existing science. Since 2007, BCAction has actively opposed the use of Avastin for metastatic breast cancer patients because of its failure to improve overall survival or quality of life and its serious side effects. This decision is the right one, but it’s not a victory. We will continue to demand and support the approval of more effective, less toxic, and more affordable treatment options for all women with breast cancer.
- Celebrates 20th anniversary year.
- Successfully advocates at the FDA to deny Genentech accelerated approval for TDM-1 for metastatic breast cancer patients based on one single-armed trial that has not given sufficient information on efficacy and safety. BCA continues to uphold stringent drug approval standards over hasty access without legitimate clinical benefit. BCA will continue to monitor how TDM-1 performs in Phase III trials.
- Activates over 6,700 people to take action through BCA’s Milking Cancer campaign. Milking Cancer demands that Eli Lilly stop manufacturing rBGH (artificial recombinant bovine growth hormone) because it is linked to breast cancer. Eli Lilly also makes breast cancer “prevention” and treatment drugs.
- Successfully advocates at the FDA to stop the use of Avastin as treatment for metastatic breast cancer. In 2007, BCA was the only breast cancer organization to put patients first by actively opposing the use of Avastin for metastatic breast cancer because of its failure to improve overall survival or quality of life, its side effects, and high price tag. In 2010, BCA’s position was endorsed by a number of breast cancer organizations.
- Launches “What the Cluck?” an award-winning advocacy campaign that demands an end to Kentucky Fried Chicken and Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s pinkwashing campaign, “Buckets for the Cure.” Over 5,200 take action. The campaign wins a second place Path to Victory Award from Business Ethics Network, and is covered by bloggers and national news outlets, including NPR, Huffington Post, Fox News, and The Colbert Report.
- Forms Screening Task Force in response to the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force’s breast cancer screening recommendations released in November 2009. While BCA’s screening policy is hailed as a leader in the field, the task force revised the policy to address the needs of all affected communities.
- Wins the first round of lawsuits against Myriad Genetics by challenging the company’s patents on breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. Patents were ruled invalid by a U.S. federal judge on March 29, 2010.
- General Mills announced that it would remove the cancer-linked synthetic growth hormone rBGH from Yoplait Yogurt.
- Dannon followed suit, announcing they will be rBGH-free by 2010. Together General Mills and Dannon represent two-thirds of the U.S. dairy market.
- Congress funds Comparative Effectiveness Research effort as part of the federal economic stimulus.
- BCA’s victorious 2008 Think Before You Pink campaign, “Yoplait: Put a Lid on It,” won the first place 2009 BENNY Award from the Business Ethics Network. The annual BENNY Awards recognize outstanding corporate campaign victories.
- Launched Milking Cancer campaign, demanding that Eli Lilly stop making rBGH, thus removing it from the world market. Thousands take action in the first week.
- On behalf of patients, successfully testified at the FDA against the approval of Doxil for metastatic breast cancer.
- Joined ACLU in lawsuit against Myriad Genetics for its patents on breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2.
- Activated 1,500 people to take action against pinkwashing just two weeks into our Think Before You Pink campaign.
- Met with Genentech (Avastin) and Amgen (anemia drugs) representatives to air concerns about their products.
- Launched five-year strategic plan — challenging assumptions and inspiring change in breast cancer advocacy.
- Published its 100th edition of the bimonthly newsletter The Source.
- Successfully advocated for removal of phthalates in cosmetics made by Secret, Arrid, and Christian Dior.
- Think Before You Pink Critical Questions appear in promotional literature and media statements from Komen and the American Cancer Society.
- Initiated First National Breast Cancer Research Summit, a gathering of funders, scientists, and key activists from around the nation.
- Think Before You Pink website was Yahoo’s pick of the month for October.
- Asserted a unique perspective, focusing on cost and effectiveness, in opposition to approval of Avastin as a treatment for breast cancer.
- Successfully argued for cancellation of STELLAR Trial, maintaining that pills for prevention always results in disease substitution.
- Published initial Aromatase Inhibitor Side Effects Survey results.
- Founding member of CHANGE, a coalition of organizations working to create a better system for regulating toxic chemicals in California.
- Fenton Communications featured BCA’s Think Before You Pink campaign as a case study in its presentation “Because It’s Worth It: 10 Ways to Measure the Impact of Your Communications.”
- BAWG, cofounded by BCA, wins “Pioneers of Precaution” award at the First National Conference on the Precautionary Principle in Baltimore, Maryland.
- BCA’s California Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005 (SB 484) enacted.
- BCA’s Think Before You Pink campaign inspired Komen and Breast Cancer Research Foundation to post their own questions consumers should ask before buying pink ribbon products.
- Successfully advanced dialogue among stakeholders concerning the California Biomonitoring Program (SB 1379), monitoring presence and concentration of chemicals in California.
- 2002 — Research confirms BCA’s longstanding concerns about hormone therapy and breast cancer risk.
- 1998 — BCA opposes use of tamoxifen for reduction of risk of breast cancer in healthy women.
- 1998 — BCA successfully calls for release of data showing high dose chemotherapy/bone marrow transplant does not work for breast cancer patients.