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Becoming a Breast Cancer Activist

If you've just learned you have breast cancer, you need to focus on your own healing. But many of us living with breast cancer soon ask:

  • How can I help others who are going through what I went through?
  • What can I do to help someone else get the breast cancer care they need?
  • What can I do to help end this disease?

Reaching out to help others is often an important part of our own healing.

It takes courage to look beyond your own breast cancer to the larger system. But that's what it takes to make a difference. History shows that breast cancer activists can help improve breast cancer care. Not long ago, many women were ashamed to admit they had breast cancer. Since then, brave breast cancer survivors have stepped forward to make breast cancer a public and national issue. Breast cancer advocates are now a powerful voice in breast cancer research and policy. Visit the NBCCF website to learn more about breast cancer activism and NBCCF.

What You Can Do:

Become a member of NBCC.

The other sections of this guide focus on what you can do to help yourself get Quality Breast Cancer Care. But many quality problems are systemwide. So the solutions need to be systemwide as well.

One person can make a big difference. But a group of people who share a vision and are ready to work toward common goals can do even more. That's why we need you to join NBCC. We are millions of breast cancer activists across the nation. Together we can and do make a difference in the quality of breast cancer care in this country. We need each and every one of you. Please join us today! Contact NBCC for membership information. Or you can join by using the printed envelope in the back of this guide.

There are lots of ways to make a difference in the breast cancer movement. Some folks spend thousands of hours year after year. Others spend just an hour here or there. You can attend a rally, organize a rally, attend a meeting, or host a fund-raiser. You can write a letter, write a hundred letters, call someone, or call everyone. You can vote, honor a hero, collect signatures, or write a law. You can hold someone's hand, ask questions, thank a supporter, or demand answers. You have your own special talents. Use them. Make breast cancer care better for someone else who may need it all too soon.

Join us when you're ready to look beyond your own breast cancer to the world of breast cancer. When it comes to improving breast cancer care, there is no limit to great ideas. We'd love to hear your ideas and stories. Please share them with us.

Ideas for Improving the Quality of Breast Cancer Care in Your Community

Build your advocacy skills.

Each spring, NBCCF holds its Advocacy Training Conference in Washington, DC. Breast cancer advocates from every part of the country come together to learn and get inspired. Everyone who cares about breast cancer is welcome.

The conference is three days long. You'll learn about breast cancer research, care, policy, and advocacy. You'll also be able to choose workshops on topics that especially interest you. There are dozens of workshops--something for everyone. Here are a few examples of workshops from other years:

  • Starting Breast Cancer Advocacy in Your Community
  • The Nuts and Bolts of Congress
  • Breast Cancer Treatment: New and Emerging Therapies
  • Environmental Research and Breast Cancer
  • Shared Decisionmaking: Guidelines and Choices

NBCC holds its Annual Lobby Day the day after the conference. On Lobby Day, NBCC activists meet with their members of Congress to ask them to support NBCC's agenda to end breast cancer. The conference prepares activists for these meetings. Everyone is welcome. Contact NBCCF for more information on our Annual Advocacy Training Conference.

Take NBCCF's Project LEAD® Course.

Project LEAD® is an intensive science program. It teaches breast cancer activists how to recognize well-designed research. It also helps them understand scientific concepts. For example, students learn about basic science, genetics, and epidemiology. (Epidemiology is the study of what causes specific health outcomes in populations.)

Project LEAD® prepares advocates to take part in meetings where breast cancer research decisions are made. It is a busy four-day program held several times a year in different cities around the country.

There are currently over 1,200 Project LEAD® graduates. One continuing education resource NBCCF provides for its graduates is the LEADgrads Online website. This website serves as a forum for networking with other graduates and discussing the latest issues and debates in breast cancer research and policy. In addition, there is a calendar of upcoming events, listing of opportunities for advocates to get more involved, and the daily breast cancer electronic newsletter, News.

NBCCF also offers a Quality Care Project LEAD® course. Modeled after Project LEAD®, Quality Care Project LEAD® is a three-day program that provides breast cancer activists with a framework for understanding quality breast cancer care and tools to improve the quality of breast cancer care in their communities. Quality Care Project LEAD® covers topics in research, policy and advocacy.

Contact NBCCF for more information on Project LEAD® and Quality Care Project LEAD®.

Fight for health care reform.

Federal and state laws could make breast cancer care much better. Contact NBCC to learn about our legislative priorities. Learn how you can:

  • fight for increased access to and improved quality of health care for everyone,
  • fight for more breast cancer research to bring us closer to finding prevention and cures,
  • demand more and better research into the links between breast cancer and the environment, and
  • work toward preservation of meaningful public programs, such as Medicaid, that provide breast cancer treatment for women with fewer financial resources.

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© 2001, 2002, 2006 National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund
Last reviewed: March 2006