For all Americans, and I dare say the world, the November 8th presidential election in this country casts a shadow or a light on this traditional American holiday when we are called to give thanks.
I’m writing today with gratitude for the determination of our dedicated staff and all who support us as we navigate this new terrain.
We know that not everyone will be sitting around a table celebrating this week. Many will be working, or volunteering in service to those who are celebrating, or travelling, or in need of vital public services. Some will be visiting loved ones in a hospital or nursing home, caring for a newborn or child, and worried about those in need. Some will be marking a calendar for their next chemo or radiation treatment.
For those spending time with family and friends, many of us will review in advance how we think uncle Javier or sister Celine voted, and rehearse how our relatives will respond if politics come up. Some of us will have arguments with our family or posse. Parents may be grappling with how to talk to their kids about fear and fairness. Pastors, priests, rabbis, imams and other clergy are struggling with their post- election sermons too. So, no doubt the election WILL come up formally or informally unless you are in a gathering where there is mutual consent for a safe space or not to speak at all.
As the leader of a non-profit that cannot, and does not, engage in electoral politics, I often remind my team that as an organization we are non-partisan but we are not unconscious.
We are change agents grounded in science, and committed to our mission to prevent a disease that overwhelmingly affects women — with a quarter million women a year hearing the words “you have breast cancer”.
Breast cancer knows no politics but is affected by it. Breast cancer knows race, ethnicity and disproportional impact in both incidence and mortality. Breast cancer affects young and old alike regardless of gender or sexual identity. We care about the millions of girls and women in this country who voted or didn’t vote. We will work to prevent breast cancer in every single one of them, as well as the small percentage of men who also suffer from breast cancer.
Our core values revolve around integrity and thus are expressed in what we do, and how we do it — how we express our support or opposition to those policies and practices of elected officials, businesses and individuals. We will continue to work hard to engage in civil discourse and have our voices at the table; we will continue to be crystal clear about our bottom line.
So let’s be clear about how we do that, what we stand for, and against.
We partner with scientists, policy makers, businesses, and advocates across health, environment and environmental justice movements as well as with individuals who work toward reducing our exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation linked not only to breast cancer, but to a host of other diseases and conditions, from reproductive harm and learning disabilities, to asthma and lung cancer.
We partner with those who are dedicated to scientific research in the field of environmental health broadly and the innovation of green chemistry that will develop safer alternatives, and we will aggressively oppose actions by agencies or policy makers that thwart those research initiatives.
We partner with policy makers – legislative and administrative — for whom protecting health and the environment are a priority. We will make clear to those whose actions contribute to the risk of breast cancer that we will do all we can to stop any efforts that harm one more woman, family, community or work place.
We partner with advocates, businesses and other groups who are working to make markets safer, and reducing the production and sales of toxic chemicals and products that contain them.
We stand with ALL of those partners, and oppose those whose policies and practices contribute to the burden of breast cancer.
Breast cancer prevention requires a strong, willing, committed federal government invested in scientific research, public health and regulation. It requires businesses that are accountable and an informed, active public. Anything less will add to the burden of this disease, cost lives and cause more suffering.
There are varying degrees of uncertainty and real concern about the appointments and policies that will emerge from the new administration, and what they’ll mean for the work of the Breast Cancer Fund.
One thing is for certain: our work is not done, and is more important than ever. We are doubling down on our beliefs, our mission and our commitment to our work, because we know you all are out there supporting us, giving us strength and faith in this time of uncertainty.
With every breath, we will announce ourselves as breast cancer prevention partners.
President & CEO