It’s been almost two months now since NBCC set a deadline for the eradication of breast cancer. We set a deadline of January 1, 2020 as a tool to change the conversation around breast cancer. Researchers, industry, the government, advocates, and the public have all become complacent. Breast cancer has led to powerful industries of research, screening, diagnosis, pharmaceuticals, and even advocacy. And many more industries gain through cause marketing of the disease every year. NBCC set a deadline to change the status quo, to stand up and say this is no longer acceptable. NBCC declared a deadline to end breast cancer for everyone. NBCC’s deadline campaign is focused on metastasis and primary prevention.
Thousands of people have listened, and heard, and new conversations are beginning. Imagination has been sparked and people are allowing themselves to imagine a world without breast cancer and considering what it would take to get there. But many others have also expressed doubt or even disappointment. Some say it is too long to wait – why should we wait that long for a cure, they say. Others say they are disappointed because they believe our focus is on prevention only.
We used neither the word “cure” nor prevention when we declared the deadline. We simply set a deadline to eradicate breast cancer. To us, this means we need to learn how to prevent deaths from breast cancer metastasis and we need to learn how to prevent the disease from developing.
Some scientists have said it sounds like a gimmick or marketing campaign and it doesn’t fit with NBCC’s reputation and respect for science. They say ten years won’t be enough time and it is naive. They want to see our detailed plan.
But our deadline wasn’t set because we already have a detailed scientific plan on how to get there and just needed a target date to finish. The deadline was set to change the conversation. And to focus work on a deadline. To bring urgency to our work. To end breast cancer. Business as usual is not working. Progress in preventing deaths from this disease, or in preventing the disease all together, has been slow and incremental, if at all. Too many resources have been focused on the wrong areas.
We do have a detailed plan, but it is a plan for starting a new conversation and for changing and focusing research. Our strategic plan is to engage all of the stakeholders around the goal. Scientists, regulators, industry representatives, and advocates have been and will continue to be invited to meetings focused on specific areas that will be crucial to achieving the goal with an emphasis on removing barriers and encouraging collaboration.
Two strategic summits will be held in 2011, one each on the topics of Metastasis and Prevention. Major issues that are ripe for further work and that would have a significant impact on breast cancer in a five year time frame will be identified. Catalytic workshops will then be held around these issues in 2012 and beyond.
We could have kept on doing what we were doing, and I think we can guess where we would have been on January 1, 2020. Or we can set a deadline to bring urgency – the catalyst we need for change. We chose to declare a deadline. Are you with us?
To find out more visit www.stopbreastcancer.org.