Enough! NBCC Declares Deadline to End Breast Cancer by January 1, 2020

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September/October 2011

By Fran Visco

Last September, the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) said, “Enough!” Enough of the incremental progress. Enough of the awareness campaigns. Enough of relying on hope as a strategy for ending breast cancer. As NBCC neared its 20th anniversary, the organization’s members could feel proud of our work to catalyze research and science; leverage existing resources; and give those diagnosed with, or at-risk of, breast cancer the tools they need to make decisions for themselves. But, significant though these accomplishments are, they have not been enough to achieve our mission of ending breast cancer. We believe it is time to embark on a new campaign, perhaps the most important campaign in breast cancer’s history: a global campaign to end breast cancer within 10 years.

In September 20, 2010, the NBCC launched Breast Cancer Deadline 2020®, a call to action for policymakers, researchers, breast cancer advocates, and other stakeholders to end the disease by January 1, 2020. NBCC advocates believe that we will end breast cancer by focusing our efforts on two key areas: learning how to prevent the disease from developing, and learning how to prevent breast cancer metastasis from taking lives.

NBCC has developed a strategic plan around these key areas designed to meet this deadline and is engaging all stakeholders around this goal. “Stakeholders” are not limited to representatives of the scientific, regulatory, and health care fields; policymakers; and breast cancer advocates. We believe stakeholders also include visionary, high-risk, and high-impact leaders who can provide valuable outside perspectives. No one who can help will be excluded from the campaign.

At its core, Breast Cancer Deadline 2020® is centered on strategic summits, workshops, and collaborative efforts with a multi-disciplinary and diverse group of stakeholders. NBCC has begun holding a series of catalytic workshops on the development of a preventive breast cancer vaccine. The early workshops led to the creation of the Artemis Project® to develop and implement a five-year strategic plan to develop a preventive vaccine. NBCC is collaborating with a Leadership Council to facilitate on-going work among scientists, advocates, and others on the Artemis Project. Scientists and advocates have been recruited, and work groups continue to form around the tasks required to have a vaccine ready for clinical trials in five years. A broad-based approach is being carried out, with teams working in parallel to create the greatest opportunity for success.

The Artemis Project collaboration will serve as a model for follow-up work arising from NBCC’s summits on preventing breast cancer as well as breast cancer metastasis. These summits — to be held in August and October, 2011 — will be working meetings with robust discussion and debate around issues relevant to prevention of breast cancer and breast cancer metastasis.  Key research questions will be identified.  Science writers will document the discussions and outcomes from each summit, and reports will be released following the meetings. Catalytic workshops will be organized in 2012 and beyond to further focus research efforts on answering the key questions.

Outreach Campaign

Discussions about breast cancer —whether they are at scientific meetings, at support group conversations, in the media, or by some advocacy organizations — typically focus on the next new drug treatment or early detection or 3-D mammograms versus digital mammography. We need to change the conversation so our discussions and actions are within the context of how we end breast cancer by the end of the decade. The conversation must change if we are to achieve our goal.

NBCC is leading an expansive outreach campaign to change the conversation around breast cancer to a dialogue about ending the disease by January 1, 2020. Using cutting-edge Web tools, social media and advertising, we are engaging new activists daily who are involved in their communities and with our mission to conduct broad education about breast cancer and our deadline to help spread the word about Breast Cancer Deadline 2020® worldwide. We need more than our advocates to speak up about our goal — we need the larger public to join us. Our advocates are playing a critical role in educating their communities about how to end breast cancer and bringing us closer to our goal.

Internationally — because this is a global movement to end breast cancer — we are developing partnerships with scientists and advocates in other countries around Breast Cancer Deadline 2020®.

Breast Cancer Is Political

Every aspect of breast cancer is touched by public policy. Breast Cancer Deadline 2020® includes a campaign to educate Congress and the Administration, along with state policy-makers, about the urgency of our deadline. Key to achieving our goal is ensuring that those who influence policy are educated and trained that Breast Cancer Deadline 2020® carries no agenda other than to save lives and to end breast cancer. To that end, NBCC is asking Members of Congress to sign the “Congressional Declaration of Support for Breast Cancer Deadline 2020®” and is developing federal legislation to accelerate our goal to end breast cancer by the end of the decade.  

The work outlined above merely lays the foundation for NBCC’s work on Breast Cancer Deadline 2020®. NBCC will continue to supplement these activities with our efforts in advocacy, training, and quality care. These education, lobbying, and communications endeavors will enhance the core programming to ensure that more individuals, organizations, and institutions are engaged in and focused on achieving the goal of ending breast cancer by January 1, 2020.

You can help spread the word and learn more by visiting www. BreastCancerDeadline2020.org. We urge you to donate what you can on our website so that we can convene stakeholders, catalyze progress, and engage more people worldwide in this essential goal. (The NWHN has been a member of the NBCC Board of Directors since 1993 and supports the Deadline campaign.)
Fran Visco is the NBCC President