When Susan G. Komen for the Cure recently came under scrutiny for their decisions about funding breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood, critics suggested that political agendas are interfering with Komen's promotion of women's health. Several weeks earlier, activists in Massachusetts were already raising the same exact concern.
At a Jan. 10, 2012 press conference jointly sponsored by Komen's MA Affiliate and Cape Cod Healthcare, a report was released showing that Cape Cod has the highest breast cancer incidence rate in Massachusetts. Did Komen just discover this alarming statistic? Have they not been listening to Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC) and Silent Spring Institute, who have been pressing the same message over the past two decades? In 1993 when the MA Department of Public Health Cancer Registry reported those high breast cancer incidence rates, your local breast cancer organization, MBCC, formed Silent Spring Institute to discover the causes and to seek ways to reduce this elevated rate. For twenty years, Silent Spring Institute and MBCC have been conducting scientific research and community education with the goal of breast cancer prevention. With minimal funding, these sister organizations have become national leaders in investigating environmental factors associated with breast cancer and studying endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in common household products. How had Susan G. Komen for the Cure not noticed these efforts toward prevention?
Breast cancer screening and treatment have been a funding priority for many years, but efforts at prevention are rarely supported. Year by year the evidence for environmental factors causing breast cancer grows: the 2010 President's Cancer Panel Report called for research to identify and eliminate environmental toxins from our homes, schools, and workplaces; a 2011 report by the Institute of Medicine called for further research into environmental chemicals and breast cancer incidence. Will Komen fully support the environmental research outlined in these recent reports? Are the foundation's corporate partnerships with consumer product leaders interfering with their support of efforts toward breast cancer prevention?
For two decades, local breast cancer activists from MBCC have pressed legislators to fund research examining environmental factors in Cape Cod's elevated breast cancer rates. They raised funds to support these efforts dollar by dollar, largely from individual supporters, rather than seeking money from corporate interests that muddle the breast cancer agenda. Will Komen support these Massachusetts scientists and educators who have spent their careers seeking ways to prevent breast cancer?
Certainly MBCC feels that women across the Commonwealth deserve the best options for breast cancer screening and treatment, and we applaud Komen's support of these facilities. But let's also work to keep women from having to use those treatment clinics in the first place. Please support your local breast cancer organization by joining MBCC at Against the Tide, and send the message to Komen that prevention is the cure!
This summer, MBCC will be hosting their 20th annual swim/kayak/walk/run Against the Tide fundraising events June 23 at DCR's Hopkinton State Park in Hopkinton, MA (20 miles from Worcester, 30 miles from Boston) and Aug. 18 at DCR's Nickerson State Park in Brewster, MA (Cape Cod). Learn more and register or make a pledge at mbcc.org/swim. Breast cancer survivors, families, and concerned citizens from across the Commonwealth will participate in support of breast cancer prevention.
Cheryl Osimo is the Director of Events and Communication at the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC) and Co-founder and Director of Silent Spring Institute. For more information, please visit mbcc.org.