Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition is dedicated to preventing environmental causes of breast cancer through community education, research advocacy, and changes to public policy.
Established in 1991, by women concerned by the lack of
attention to breast cancer prevention, Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition
(MBCC) spurred Massachusetts to be the first state in the nation to officially
recognize and declare breast cancer as an epidemic. In 1994, MBCC founded Silent
Spring Institute to drive scientifically sound investigation into elevated
breast cancer rates on Cape Cod and beyond. Today, MBCC continues to be the
state's leading breast cancer non-profit focused on preventing environmental
causes of breast cancer.
Significant accomplishments for MBCC in 2016 include: 1) the
launch of the MBCC Webinar Series featuring renown scientists and educators
addressing a range of topics on chemical exposure and the potential health
impacts; 2) hosting an educational forum at the Massachusetts State House for
legislators; 3) expanding MBCC's Let's Talk Prevention: Reducing Toxic
Exposures community education program and tour into 50 locations across the
state; and, 4) translating the Let's Talk Prevention program materials into
Mandarin, Japanese, and Portuguese to strengthen awareness of potentially
harmful environmental substances across diverse populations. In 2017, MBCC
partnered with scientists and educators to develop and launch an environmental
health program for high school students as an extension of the Let's Talk
Prevention program. This new high school program, comprised of supplemental
stand-alone classroom modules to enhance science, health, and
environmental studies curriculums by providing real-world application of
scientific content knowledge, was successfully piloted in two schools
in the spring and was launched state-wide this fall. In 2017, MBCC
continued its ongoing efforts to reach out to more Massachusetts citizens by
translating the Let's Talk Prevention materials into Korean, moving the Let's
Talk Prevention tour to 27 new locations, and adding four more webinars to the
MBCC Webinar Series. MBCC also continued its advocacy outreach at the State
House by hosting a second educational forum for legislators in January, and an
Advocacy Day with concerned citizens from across the state to speak with
legislators about the need for quality drinking water and groundwater research
Funding would help MBCC to expand the Let's Talk Prevention program to meet our goal of an educated community who can make informed decisions about toxic exposures, as it relates to their behavior, purchase habits, and overall lifestyle. To grow the program, we plan to create multi-media tools, develop materials for specific audiences (pregnant/nursing women, middle school students, or caregivers), increase tour locations, offer new translations, and to expand the newly developed high school program with additional classroom modules and materials.
Additional funding would provide the means to diversify the modality of program materials by adapting them to PowerPoint presentations, videos, webinars, podcasts, social media and expanded print materials. Our goal is to strengthen the versatility of the program’s delivery to suit the community need. Such re-formatting and tailoring of the Let's Talk Prevention content ensure that our education outreach is both widespread and adaptable to a variety of venues and community demographics.
To ensure reach into a broader section of the community, MBCC would like to expand this program to other languages and would use the funding to support the translation of materials to ensure that all families, regardless of their native language, will be equipped to reduce their exposure to chemicals of concern. We would also use the funding to purchase font types and work with translators to ensure accurate translations of MBCC's program materials.
The breast cancer movement is long overdue for a message transformation. Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC) is unique and concentrates on disease prevention. MBCC promotes a better understanding of the link between toxic exposures and breast cancer. At MBCC we have been privileged to work hand-in-hand with the citizens in Massachusetts and beyond. Whether it is our volunteers, sponsors, or supporters who reach out to us on a daily basis, all of them have one thing in common, they have been touched by cancer, and realize MBCC's mission is critical. These citizens are concerned with minimizing their exposure to toxic chemicals and look to us for both information and guidance about how these exposures can be reduced for them and their families. It is our obligation at MBCC to influence our state and federal governments to support the public health challenges we face as it relates to toxic exposures. We believe that our work at MBCC will not only support the prevention of breast cancer but will go along way towards the prevention of other types of cancer and ill health. Our goal is to serve as an invaluable bridge between research and medical communities to educate our citizens while advocating for the policy changes necessary to protect the health of our children, grandchildren, and future generations.
Board Chair Statement
As a woman living with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer for the past 17 years, and based on current incident rates, I am representative of the 1 in 8 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer sometime in her lifetime. I am proud to serve as Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition's Board President to represent and advocate for the countless women, men, and families having to endure the hardship of a breast cancer diagnosis.
Leading scientific journals state 5 - 10% of breast cancer diagnoses are associated with a family history of the disease, and 15-20% of breast cancers are linked to lifestyle factors. This leaves a staggering 70-80% of breast cancer diagnosis that may be linked to exposure to carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting chemicals. It is understandable that families and patients want to donate to their doctors and hospitals. However, giving to the "prevention" of breast cancer is important as well in order to promote change. The challenge for MBCC is broadening the conventional conversation around breast cancer beyond "awareness", screening, treatment, and "cure" to include the vital message of prevention. With a shift in the funding focus to prevention, we hope to reduce the emotional, physical, financial, and time burden of a cancer diagnosis.
My passion lies in prevention and the Precautionary Principle. If there is indication of harm, we ask that chemicals be pragmatically replaced. We ask that the manufacturing, transportation, and use of chemicals have higher environmental standards. We look for a future where infants do not carry a burden of hazardous industrial chemicals passed along through their umbilical cord. We seek a future free from the ball and chain of diseases such as breast cancer.
We all continue to be contaminated without our consent by persistent, bioaccumulative, endocrine disrupting, and carcinogenic chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA), flame retardants, and formaldehyde in our air, water, soil, food, and products on store shelves. Demand is building for a world in which toxic chemicals are not found in our homes, workplaces, schools, playgrounds, and in everyday products on the shelf in every store. We want a world where public health, ecosystem health, and the health of future generations are a priority. A focus on higher funding for breast cancer prevention would save countless women, men, and their families from having to endure the hardship of a breast cancer diagnosis, painful treatment regimens, and numerous side effects. Plus, the savings from preventing breast cancer would also have an enormous impact on skyrocketing U.S. healthcare costs.
The rates of morbidity and mortality from cancer are at epidemic levels. Massachusetts breast cancer incidence rates are far above the national average. This is not acceptable. Environmental injustices invade our neighborhoods, our bodies, and the well-being of our ecosystem. The lifetime risk of breast cancer was 1 in 20 in 1964, 1 in 14 in 1984, and today the burden is 1 in 8. Our government has spent billions of our dollars on the "war on cancer", and yet breast cancer rates have more than doubled in the last 60 years.
Funding for prevention lags far behind. A far greater benefit in lives saved would be realized from efforts directed towards prevention. We want environmental standards to be reformed, strengthened, and enforced so we can move forward with safer choices. Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition advocates to help further reduce our exposure to chemicals of concern, and ensure that from the manufacturing floor to the store shelves, we are confident in the products we purchase, the water we drink, and the food that we eat to be contaminant free.
We simply cannot continue ignoring the fact that a systemuc change in needed and the crrent steps for protecting everyone are inadequate. I wholeheartedly support Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition's mission to prevent environmental causes of breast cancer through community education, research advocacy, and changs to public policy.