Breast Cancer Awareness

An End to Breast Cancer By 2020?

October 21, 2013 at 4:42 pm , by

In May of 1961, President John F. Kennedy stood before Congress with his ambitious plan to land a man on the moon before the end of that decade. Critics across the country balked. How could NASA possibly pull off something so incredible in such a short time? But the following year John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth. And on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted a flag on the moon.

Today, Fran Visco, president of National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC), says we need a similarly bold goal to end breast cancer—not in some distant future for our daughter’s daughters, but by the year 2020. “The Apollo Project looked at where technology was at the time, and simply asked, ‘How can we apply this to getting on the moon?’ NBCC is doing the same thing,” she explains.

Two Octobers ago, LHJ ran an interview with Visco (right) to mark the launch of NBCC’s deadline. (Click here to read that interview to get a primer on Visco and NBCC.) Recently, we caught up with her to chat about the progress so far.

LHJ: The last time you talked with us, NBCC had just announced its ambitious goal to end breast cancer by 2020. What’s the latest?

FV: The scientists we’re working with have made progress in identifying targets for a preventive vaccine against breast cancer, and we’re on track to be in Phase 1 clinical trials with it in three years. We’re also making progress in our work on stopping metastasis.

We’ve been able to change the conversation among the research community, which is huge. To give you an example, recently I was invited to speak to an auditorium full of clinicians and researchers at a major cancer center. When I asked the organizers why they wanted me to speak, they said the researchers talk about the deadline campaign a lot among themselves when they talk about their work. That’s exciting because no one even thought this was a possibility when we started, and now there’s enthusiasm and momentum. Instead of asking us, “How on earth are you going to end breast cancer?,” researchers and doctors are now asking us, “How can I help you end breast cancer?” That’s a big deal because the National Breast Cancer Coalition isn’t going to do this alone.

LHJ: What drove your decision to focus on those two areas—metastasis and developing a vaccine?

FV: What we want to do is move away from toxic drugs. If you were diagnosed with breast cancer today, you would be treated with drugs and possibly radiation, both of which can have life-threatening side effects. One of my dear friends, Carolina Hinestrosa, who was the executive vice president of NBCC, died in 2009 of a cancer caused by the radiation treatment she got for her breast cancer. That’s why we’re focusing on developing a safe preventive vaccine—so women don’t have to go through that in the first place.

For the most part, women do not die from a breast tumor. Metastasis is responsible for 90 percent of all breast cancer deaths. If we could stop that process, so that if you do get breast cancer you won’t die from it, that would be enormous. Most recently we put together a think tank of 17 scientists and advocates to look at the issue of tumor dormancy. Why does cancer stay dormant for months or years in some women? Can we learn how to keep it that way? I recall reading several years ago about a group of engineers who were talking about filters for blood flow to “catch” cancer cells. I have no idea if that is even possible but that is the kind of innovative thinking we want to encourage. We still lose too many women to this disease, and unfortunately, early detection is not the answer.

LHJ: Do you think the major focus on early detection has actually slowed progress?

FV: The problem is early detection can only do so much. We’ve spent way too much energy, attention and resources on early detection and it hasn’t gotten us very far. This year, an estimated 108 women will die of breast cancer every day. In 1991, just a few years after I was diagnosed, that number was 119.

The world has raised billions of dollars for breast cancer research, but the mortality rates haven’t changed very much. So it’s not that we’re not catching breast cancer early enough or that we haven’t raised enough money, it’s that we’re not focusing our efforts on the right things. That’s why we want NBCC to have an oversight role, which means we want to set priorities and oversee how the money is being spent.

LHJ: You are also lobbying Congress to pass the Accelerating the End of Breast Cancer Act. What would the bill accomplish? And we have to ask, has the current political climate in Washington gotten in the way?

FV: It is definitely slowing things down because Congress is dealing with other pressing issues, but I hope it won’t be a barrier to getting it done.

What we are trying to do with the bill is create a systematic way to leverage the investments we’ve already made in research. We’re not asking for more money, we’re asking to create an entity that can bring people together to collaborate. We have a lot of tools, technology and knowledge already, but none of this stuff is being translated into things that actually help people. That’s exactly how this is like the Apollo project. Let’s look at where the science is and figure out how to accomplish the goal, rather than just making another drug or another tool. I truly believe that now is the time to do that. Let’s take all this awareness, all this funding and work together to end breast cancer for good.

To learn more about NBCC’s work and how you can help, head to

Pink Products GIVEAWAY for Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

October 10, 2011 at 10:05 am , by

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month! With so many “pink products” now available in stores and online, we wanted to give you a chance to win the entire collection of our favorite Do Good-ies donating to this important cause. Write a comment about Breast Cancer Awareness in the section below for a chance to win everything you see pictured here! Learn how these products are giving back and where you can buy them to sport your own pink pride.

WIN IT ALL! Just write a comment below about Breast Cancer Awareness

Ford Warriors in Pink  (2 tees, hoodie, and travel mug – as seen in our October issue!)
Get them here!  100% of net proceeds help support Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Avon Nailwear Pro (Nail enamel in ‘Pink Power’ – as seen in our October issue!)
Get it here! 100% of net profits donated to the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade

Elaine Turner (Studded leather wrap bracelet)
Get it here!  100% of the proceeds from these bracelets will be donated to the Nellie B. Connally Breast Cancer Center at MD Anderson

KitchenAid Cook for the Cure

Get it here! KitchenAid’s pink items benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure   all year long, not just October. In honor of the 10th anniversary of this partnership, KitchenAid is committing to a minimum of $450,000 in donations to Komen in 2011, supported through the sale and registration of pink KitchenAid products together with celebrity chef auctions and grass roots efforts that encourage cooks to get friends and family involved.  

Smashbox “O-gloss”
Get it here! Through the end of October, the entire purchase price will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate Bars (20 total, 4 flavors)
Get them here! Through the end of December 2011, specially marked pink ribbon packages of Intense Dark™ will carry a code inside the package redeemable for a $1 donation to the National Breast Cancer Foundation

Counting for a Cause (Rose gold-dipped bracelet)
Get it here! 50% profits from each sale benefit The Karmanos Cancer Institute

Yoplait Bag with BCA products (Two coupons for FREE  yogurt, tote bag, journal, keychain, pen, and pink lid collection kit)  Get Yoplait yogurt at your local grocery store to ensure freshness! Yoplait donates 10 cents for every pink lid redeemed by December 31, 2011 to benefit their Save Lids to Save Lives campaign  {up to $2,000,000.00}

Pure Fiji Frangipani products (Hydrating body lotion, coconut sugar scrub, coconut milk bath soak, body butter, nourishing exotic oil, handmade coconut soap, and island candle)
Get them here! 10% of all sales from the Frangipani line that are purchased during the month of October will be donated to Susan G. Komen. Pure Fiji is also donating products to the survivors that participate in the Susan G. Komen race in Denver, Colorado.

Glass Eye Studio & Seattle Chocolates (Hand- blown glass white floppy bowl with strawberry crème truffles)
Get it here! Through the end of October, for every set purchased a $10 donation will be made to Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Taylor Kenney (Poppy Earrings – as seen in our October issue!)
Get it here! 30% of sales will be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Susan G. Komen For The Cure’s ‘Promise Me’ (Fragrance)

Get it here! With every fragrance sold, a donation of 13.5% of sales is made to Susan G. Komen for the Cure , with a minimum guarantee of $1,000,000 dedicated to breast cancer research, education, screening and treatment.

Origins Make a Difference (Skin Rejuvenating Treatment - as seen in our October issue!)
Get it here! Through the month of October, $5 from every North American sale of this treatment will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Bobbi Brown Pink Ribbon Collection (High Shimmer Lip Gloss & Lip Color)
Get it here! (while supplies last 10/1/11 – 12/31/11) Bobbi Brown will donate $10 from the sale of this limited edition set to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Ann Cares (Pink jewel ring – as seen in our October issue!)
Get it here! 70% of the proceeds benefit Breast Cancer Research Foundation 

Emma Stine (Blush Rosette Earrings)
Get it here!  30% of sales will be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure 

Sonia Kashuk Proudly Pink (5 piece purse brush set – as seen in our October issue!)
Get it here! Available for one year, 15% of this set will benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation

 *Official Rules

Do Good: Brushing for the Cure

October 18, 2010 at 3:12 pm , by

brush October is, of course, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It seems like you can get almost everything in ribbon-pink these days (which is great because the products contribue to a good cause!) but we especially like this adorable scrub brush from Boston Warehouse. (How often do you get excited about a scrub brush!?) A portion of the sales from this Brushing Beauty Breast Cancer Brush (try saying that 5 times fast) will go to Susan G Komen for the Cure. The company even made a $15,000 donation guarantee to Susan G Komen in support of its promise to save lives and end breast cancer forever. Nice!

Olivia Newton-John’s Push for Better Breast Health

October 5, 2010 at 12:18 pm , by

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and one celebrity who is committed to the cause and to early detection is Olivia Newton-John. While Olivia is well known for her talents as an actress and a singer, she was also diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992 and is now cancer-free. This month, Olivia is a part of 1 a Minute, a docudrama that follows a woman’s journey through breast cancer and hits theaters for one night only, October 6. After the film is over theaters will broadcast a live discussion about breast cancer, with Olivia among the panelists. We spoke with her recently about Liv Aid (a self-exam aid she’s created to encourage women to be more active in their breast health), as well as the cancer and wellness center she’s building, her new album, and her rockin’ guest role on Glee.

A breast self-exam led to your breast cancer diagnosis eighteen years ago. What do you want women to know about early detection, and why is it so important?

Early detection is key. Lumps are benign in the majority of cases, but if it’s a cancerous tumor, the earlier you find it and get it removed, the better the outcome. That’s why women should do regular breast self-examinations. They should have yearly mammograms after age 40 and girls should start doing regular self-exams after age 20. That sounds really young but Dr. Ernie Bodai, who’s our medical advisor on the Liv board, told us he’s getting more and more young girls who have been turned away by their doctors saying, it couldn’t possibly be, and by the time the tumor is found it’s large. Read more

Beauty Coach: Shower Power

October 1, 2009 at 2:02 pm , by

ShowerForTheCureSG16ozI’m a huge fan of Philosophy bath and body products, especially the shower gels. They come in delicious scents (Cinnamon Buns and Strawberry Milkshake, anyone?), have a nice, foamy lather and can even stand in as bubble bath or shampoo. (I’ve personally never washed my hair with shower gel, but I appreciate having the option). Plus, the sets make fabulous gifts. Friends and family always squeal over the charming packaging and ooh and ahh over the yummy fragrances. They feel good, I feel good: It’s a win-win.

Philosophy’s newest body wash, Shower for the Cure, $20, will make you feel good, too. Yes, the delicate floral scent and creamy formula is lovely, but even more noteworthy is that 100% of the net proceeds from each 16 ounce bottle will be donated to the Women’s Cancer Research Fund (WCRF).

Felicity_Huffman_Headshot-Jack_GuyWant to feel even better? Join Felicity Huffman, Rita Wilson and Lisa Kudrow, and add a line to Philosophy’s “unforgettable” poem, which starts with the phrase “she is…” and represents a woman who has experienced cancer in some way. You can also donate a $1 to WCRF with your poetry submission.

Don’t know any breast cancer survivors? Read about these inspiring women from our October “Life After Breast Cancer” story and dedicate a line to one of them! (That’s what I did.)