I was 43, unemployed and without health care coverage when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1994. I learned quickly to advocate for my own care and soon realized that my situation was not unique. This set off my commitment to end breast cancer and to ensure that all women have access to quality care.
I attended my first NBCC Advocacy Training Conference in 1996 and immediately knew I wanted to be part of this group that was really going to make things happen. I immersed myself in NBCC, taking advantage of education and training programs, Project LEAD, Clinical Trials Project LEAD and Quality Care LEAD, and the opportunities that followed. I became involved in several NBCC initiatives, including Quality Care, Measuring What Matters and knowbreastcancer.org I’ve served as a peer reviewer for federal and state breast cancer research proposals. On a local level helped to form CARE Advocates, a hospital-based advocacy group to promote consumer involvement in programs for breast cancer patients and their families.
NBCC’s focus on legislative and policy arenas really lit the fire in me. I think I’ve always been a political advocate at heart, and NBCC helped me to act on my passion to end breast cancer and to ensure that everyone has access to quality care. As Volunteer Field Coordinator for Massachusetts, I saw first-hand how the passionate voices of informed advocates helped to enact Medicaid expansion through the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Act in 2001, and more recently, Health Care Reform legislation.
As a survivor, I consider it a privilege and a responsibility to be an advocate. There are so many areas that can benefit from the consumer perspective: research, public policy, hospital and clinical care programs, just to name a few. NBCC is the leader in bringing the consumer voice to bear on all areas of breast cancer to affect positive change. We’ve come a long way, and we still have a long way to go. I’m proud to be part of NBCC every step along the way and I intend to be there when we finally end breast cancer.