Sad and Frustrated

I know 40,000 women die from breast cancer every year.  The fact that this hasn’t decreased very much over the years is why I started blogging for change.  What we have been doing – the pink ribbon campaigns, the fundraising, the awareness, the self-exams, the mammography, the research – hasn’t prevented those deaths from occurring year after year.

But it takes the wind out of your sails when one of those 40,000 women was your friend.  Yolanda was a friend, a fellow breast cancer advocate, and a dear, sweet soul.  She died this week, at the age of 36.

So today, the last day of breast cancer awareness month,  I’m sad and frustrated.  Will we ever make progress so that young women, sisters, mothers, aunts, wives, and grandmothers stop dying from this disease?  How do we come together to encourage innovation, to remove the barriers that are preventing real progress, and to fight the powerful, commercial forces that are taking advantage of people’s fears of this disease?  Are there smart, creative scientists out there who can figure this disease out?  Can we help them get there?

There is nothing to do but keep trying.  As Sen. Kennedy said, the work begins anew, the hope rises again, and the dream lives on.

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Comments

  • Carole  On October 31, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    You told me once, in one of our late night conference “study sessions,” that you were mad – mad that anyone had to go through this ordeal that we call cancer. At the time my opinion differed, but not now. I’m mad as hell now. I’m mad that Yolanda died. I’m mad that we haven’t found a cure, and I’m mad that our children have to live with the knowledge that they, too, may someday be diagnosed with breast cancer.

    But I have to admit that in the midst of my anger, there’s also hopefulness. There is so much innovative research being done in cancer, and every time I read a grant proposal I rejoice at the men and women who have devoted their careers to finding a cure. On Tuesday I leave for a NCI conference devoted to translational research – a gathering intended to create an environment that will hasten the transition of knowledge from the laboratory to the clinic. This is the future of cancer research. Yes, the dream does live on; thanks, Laura, for reminding all of us why we do this.

  • Joy Simha  On November 1, 2009 at 10:34 am

    Laura,

    I share your sadness and frustration. I believe that there are many out there who have the desire, the skill and the innovation to cure cancer. We will have to embrace those who think out of the box in order to support the process. We have to focus our message and resources on that innovation and collaboration. We cannot waste resources, air time and media attention on awareness, early detection and the survivors’ need to go forth into the community and “save civilians” from a disease they may never get. Those civilians can participate in prevention trials. They can help support those around them who are affected by the disease, but it is not productive for them to fear breast cancer. It is productive for them to take care of themselves in order to avoid so many diseases including breast cancer. We as advocates have an obligation to stay a part of the solution. And if we are not part of the solution, then we are part of the problem. Let us all focus on the solution in the name of Yolanda and so many other good friends and loved ones who can not. I am honored to be a part of the team.

  • Debra Madden  On November 1, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Laura,

    I can’t think of a better tribute to and a more accurate description of our beautiful friend and sister advocate than your words: “a dear, sweet soul.” She truly was one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. Her loss is absolutely tragic. She touched the heart of all of us who were fortunate enough to meet her. And she will always remain in mine and doubtless so many others’ as we continue as peer mentors, survivors, and advocates–who, as Joy so beautifully said, are focused on the solution in the name of Yolanda and so many other of our beloved sisters.

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