Giving Breast Cancer A Deadline
How a group of women refuse to let cancer win
By Gloria Wakefield
This picture was first published in the October 2010 article, “A Hopeful time for Breast Cancer Patients,” in HealthSource’s annual breast cancer issue about sisters who have inherited the BRCA 1 breast cancer gene mutation. Remember Angelia Jolie! These are my sisters and nieces. I am Gloria Wakefield, far left, with Rhonda, Deb, Stephanie, Kelly and Kim. We have tested positive for the BRCA 1 breast cancer gene. My nieces have not yet been tested.
Kim, far right, and I were both diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. She was age 38. It was a second diagnosis for me; my first having been 22 years earlier at age 38. I am happy to report that Kim and I have no evidence of disease to date in 2013.
So why are we back again sharing our story with you? Because even though we have no evidence of disease today, we both know that we are not cured and that breast cancer recurs five, ten, fifteen and even twenty-five years after an initial diagnosis and treatment. We also know that Rhonda and Deb have an 89% chance of getting the disease and that their daughters, Stephanie and Kelly have a 50% chance.
We would like to share with you some important facts about the status of breast cancer in 2013:
- In 1975, 1 in 11 women were diagnosed; in 2013, 1 in 8 women are diagnosed; in 1991, 114 women died every day from breast cancer and in 2013, 112 women die every day.
- Even though we are “aware” and billions of dollars have been raised and spent toward research, in the past 40 years we still do not know what causes it, how to prevent it or how to treat it effectively to stop it from recurring in our bones and organs and causing death.
- We “race for the cure” toward our current treatments that include surgery (slash), radiation (burn) and chemotherapy (poison) with no great effect on two important outcomes: preventing it and making sure no one dies from it.
- The breast cancer research communities are working diligently to find a cure, however, billions of dollars have been granted to them with no accountability or sense of urgency as to when or if a cure may ever happen.
- The lack of collaboration among the many research communities to share past, present and future research innovations continues to delay progress.
The status quo is not working and we do not have the luxury of time to continue the indefinite wait for knowing how to prevent it and knowing how to treat it more effectively. We have to change the current research processes and conversations now. Fortunately, we have an organization working very hard to make this change happen.
The National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC), a non-profit grassroots organization of breast cancer advocates established in 1991, has challenged the scientific community through its Breast Cancer Deadline 2020 campaign. The challenge is to know how to prevent breast cancer and to stop the spread to bones and organs by January 1, 2020. The campaign was launched in 2010 and with only seven (7) years to go, there is much work to be done.
My sisters, nieces and I hope that now that you know the status of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment in 2013 that you will want to do whatever you can to support the breast cancer deadline 2020 efforts. Learn more about it at breastcancerdeadline2020.org.
If you are interested in supporting the deadline, please:
- Join the National Breast Cancer Coalition
- Ask your friends and family to support you and join as well
- Join a local action network in your community
- Join our state Facebook community at Florida Breast Cancer Deadline 2020 Action Network
- Like the National Breast Cancer Coalition on Facebook and follow #BCD2020 on Twitter