Karuna at march rallyBy Karuna Jaggar, Executive Director

Since our founding, Breast Cancer Action has been a small organization with an outsized impact. We do this by always asking ourselves: how can we use our organizational skills and resources most effectively in demanding health justice for women affected by breast cancer, and supporting a broader progressive movement for social justice?

This question looms larger than ever after the 2016 election radically altered our national political landscape. There’s so much at stake right now when it comes to healthcare access, cancer research, and public health protections like toxic chemical regulations.

So what’s ahead in our work for health justice in this new political climate?

The current administration is seeking to repeal and/or weaken the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which is an imperfect but critical piece of legislation that helped millions of people, including women with breast cancer, access healthcare. We are working not only to defend the gains made under the ACA but also to improve health coverage and have put forward a vision for universal healthcare. In this issue, you’ll read about the defeat of legislation that would have repealed the Affordable Care Act and stripped healthcare from 24 million people. And don’t miss member Wendi Dennis’ story about needing access to healthcare as a breast cancer patient.

We have a unique (and unfortunately rare) role as a patient advocacy group that doesn’t take pharma funding, so we’ll be doing more to help bring down the unconscionably high cost of cancer drugs, while continuing to demand drugs are safe and effective before the Food & Drug Administration approves them. Stay tuned for an action alert about opposing Trump’s nominee to head the FDA, Scott Gottlieb, who would be the most interest-conflicted commissioner in American history.

On the flip side, some of our work in the coming months and years will be more defensive than usual. For example, the past few years we’ve been pushing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to do more to protect us from toxic chemicals linked to breast cancer; now we’ll also be working to ensure we don’t lose basic protections already in place, especially since the new EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, is notoriously hostile to the agency’s core mission of protecting human health and the environment.

We are in this for the long haul. We know we can’t end the breast cancer epidemic without demanding fundamental changes in our profit-driven society. And we refuse to start thinking small now . We may “lose” more in the short term, but we always have our eye on building momentum for needed systemic changes. Last month, we asked you to oppose the nominations of Scott Pruitt and Tom Price to President Trump’s cabinet, and you did, along with thousands of people across the country. Even though the Senate confirmed them both, our resistance was far from fruitless. Our ongoing resistance builds our collective power to demand quality healthcare and protection from toxic chemicals, and to put this administration on notice that we will not stand silently by as they harm women’s health.

There are some things that won’t ever change about our work. We will always be a fiercely independent voice for women’s health. We will always refuse corporate funding from any company that profits from or contributes to the breast cancer epidemic. We will always get to the roots of the breast cancer epidemic and demand true system changes that will benefit all our health.

We need your support now more than ever. As we face the difficult year(s) ahead, now’s the time to step up your support to Breast Cancer Action and join our circle of monthly donors. Your monthly donation to Breast Cancer Action is an investment in social change, and an important form of grassroots activism.

Thank you for standing up and resisting threats to our health.