“This fragile earth, our island home”

As the devastating news comes out of Japan, I have been haunted by this line from the Episcopal Eucharistic Service.  We like to think we are in control of our planet, our health, and our future, and then the earth shakes and we realize again that we are all part of a family doing the best we can. Watching this tragedy unfold is a continual reminder of life’s fragility and nature’s power as well as our remarkable ability to face and overcome adversity together.

As someone who has spent my entire adult life treating breast cancer, I have seen an incredible amount of sadness. But I’ve also witnessed remarkable resilience, and have had the opportunity to meet and work with an amazing cadre of breast cancer researchers, advocates, and survivors who share my concerns about the pace and direction of cancer research and who believe we need to start asking different questions if we are ever going to get the right answers and meet the Deadline 2020.

I had the good fortune to be surrounded by more than 100 of these think-outside-the-box types at our 2011 International Symposium on the Intraductal Approach to Breast Cancer, which was held last month in Santa Monica. And I truly believe this was our best conference yet.

This year, our focus was “The Normal Human Breast: Building Our Understanding from Mice to Women.” We explored the continuum of research from mice to women, discussed the knowledge gaps and barriers we face, and delved further into what it will take to get answers to the two most important questions: what causes breast cancer and how do we stop it from occurring. You can watch a video of the Symposium overview that was presented at our Public Panel.

We also launched another new feature at this year’s conference—our Challenge to Collaborate. This new grant process got everyone at the Symposium talking to one another so that they could establish teams that would compete for planning grants. We had nine teams compete, and the six best proposals received funding that will allow them to solidify their ideas and obtain initial data, with the aim of submitting a full proposal to the Avon Foundation for Women for additional funding. You can learn more about the six consortiums who received funding and their proposals here

We will have a full conference report completed soon, and I’ll let you know when that’s available.

As always, I am grateful for your continued support of our Foundation, and our work to go beyond a cure. I couldn’t do it without you.

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2 Responses to Saying Grace

  1. I am so sick of the word “hopefully”. We live on hope, when what we need are results! I would like the option of taking the aromatase drugs, but I’m one of the 1/3 of women who have severe joint pain from them. HOPEFULLY, they’ll do something for our 1/3 and come up with drugs as effective as the aromatase, but without the side effects. A 1/3 failure rate is pretty dismal. Researchers can do better for us.

  2. Pink Kitchen says:

    I am interested to know whether any of the grants were given to those who are studying environmental effects on breast cancer occurrence, including parabens, triclosan, and other additives to beauty products – as well as pesticides on food, etc.

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