Over the past few months, Iâ€™ve had the opportunity to tell you about the many new grants the Foundation has received and the incredible new research opportunities we will have in 2008.
None of this research would be possible, however, without the Foundationâ€™s Army of Women. This is our cadre of volunteers who have responded to our call for research subjects. And I canâ€™t thank them enough for their interest in and support of our work.
I have had my own ducts lavaged many times. So has Dr. Dixie Mills, the Foundationâ€™s Clinical Research Director. This means we know first-hand what our volunteers will experience. Certainly, there are few, if any, other research foundations that can say the same thing!
Each volunteer has her own unique reason for becoming involved with the Foundation. Jan Miller decided to become an Army of Women volunteer after her 39-year-old daughter, who is a mother of three, was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2007.
â€œWhen something like this happens you feel helpless and you want to do something proactive and want to make a difference,â€ says Miller. â€œSo, when I saw the article about the Foundation needing volunteers, I couldnâ€™t wait to call.â€ When she did, Miller learned that she was eligible for one of the Foundationâ€™s ductal lavage studies. And, she reports, the whole experience was great. â€œ The people were fantastic,â€ she says. â€œAnd I really loved the big fuzzy pink bathrobes you get to wear. Everyone was straightforward and caring. And they followed up to be sure I was okay.â€
Debbie Streiber, a retired nurse, has taken part in three research studies since she became a Foundation volunteer in 2006. She also volunteered to be a model patient for the ducal lavage demonstrations included at the Foundationâ€™s International Symposium on the Intraductal Approach to Breast Cancer, which was held in Santa Monica, Calif., last March. â€œI thought, â€˜This is something I can do for all my women friends who may or may not have been through this,â€™â€ she says. â€œI have friends in remission. I have friends who are no longer here. The wife of the fellow I am now dating died of breast cancer. I feel blessed that it hasnâ€™t hit me.â€
Like many other members of the Army of Women, both Streiber and Miller have convinced their friends to join the Army of Women. And, not surprisingly, so have I and Dr. Mills and all the other Foundation staff.
Right now, all the members of our Army live in the Los Angeles area. But we are actively seeking the funds that will allow us to expand the project nationally. This will allow us to help researchers throughout the country who are studying the intraductal approach to breast cancer find the volunteers they need to conduct their research studies. If youâ€™d like to help make that happen, you can donate to our Army of Women fund.
I know first-hand that it takes a village to raise a child. Iâ€™m also convinced that it will take an Army of Women to end this disease.
Jan Miller and Debbie Streiber were both featured in a Good Morning America segment about the Army of Women and the Foundationâ€™s research program that aired on October 7, 2007. You can read about and watch the segment here. To learn more about the Army of Women and how you can volunteer for the Foundationâ€™s research studies, click here.