From the Executive Director: Honoring Breast Cancer Action’s 25 Years of Activism

Karuna Jaggar headshotBy Karuna Jaggar, Executive Director

Twenty-five years. It’s the blink of an eye and it’s a lifetime.

Twenty-five years ago, a handful of women living with breast cancer got together in a San Francisco Bay Area living room to talk about their disease. Their names were Elenore Pred. Susan Claymon. Belle Shayer. They put out a call and soon they were joined by Carol Kramer, Linda Reyes, and others.

These women were frustrated with the lack of information available about breast cancer and unapologetic about asking hard questions: Why didn’t anyone care about prevention? Why were treatment options so limited and so toxic? Would their daughters and granddaughters get this devastating disease, too?

Our founders were angry, some would say militant, and they channeled their anger into action by creating Breast Cancer Action. Their goals were: “education and political action to prevent a further rise in the incidence of breast cancer.”

For 25 years, Breast Cancer Action has been a trusted and independent voice for change in the breast cancer movement. Over the years, tens of thousands of people have joined our founders in demanding an end to the ineffective status quo in breast cancer. Those women included members across the country, our first full-time executive director Barbara Brenner, members of our all-volunteer Board of Directors, medical and scientific advisory board members, volunteers and interns. And each of YOU!

Together, we have called for accountability and transparency in breast cancer fundraising. We have stood up to Big Pharma and biotech companies, demanding more than hope and hype and insisting that new treatments approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) work for women. We have put social justice front and center, and we have refused to leave the unacceptable inequities in the breast cancer epidemic in the shadows.

For 25 years, BCAction has been the watchdog for the breast cancer movement, working to put women’s health first. We are able to serve this critical role because we have a strict corporate contributions policy and are free from conflicts of interest. Among the endless sea of lucrative breast cancer charities, corporate donors, and pharmaceutical-funded research agendas, the independent voice that defines Breast Cancer Action has never been more urgently needed, and our relevance as an activist watchdog organization is greater than ever.

In our work to change the status quo, we launched our award-winning Think Before You Pink® campaign in 2002 and coined the term “pinkwashing” which is now a household word. We were the only breast cancer organization that was a plaintiff in the Supreme Court case outlawing patents on the human BRCA genes in 2013. Since our founding, we have brought our trusted voice to the FDA to shift the balance of power from Big Pharma to patients. Our work has been featured in major outlets across the country, including The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, The Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, Jezebel, and NPR. From our inception, we have led the way advocating for the system-wide changes necessary to address and end the breast cancer epidemic.

A lot has happened since BCAction’s founding. Only one of our visionary founders is alive today, but we carry on their fearless legacy of challenging the status quo in breast cancer. With your support, we will make even more change over the next 25 years.

In the months ahead, I hope you will join us to mark this historic organizational milestone and unite with us around our vision to achieve health justice for all women at risk of and living with breast cancer. I invite you to:

We have been able to achieve remarkable accomplishments over the past 25 years because of the support of our grassroots members—you and the people across the country like you. Thank you for joining us. Thank you for taking action. Thank you for donating to fund our work.

Thank you for being part of BCAction’s powerful grassroots movement for change!

This entry was posted in BCA News.