2011 NBCC Advocacy Conference

Are you satisfied with the progress that has been made toward ending breast cancer? Or are you concerned that 110 women per day are still dying from this disease despite the billions that have been spent on research in the last 20 years? And, on a different note, did you ever notice that the work you must get done usually seems to get done right before its deadline?

Well, NBCC has put these two ideas together with its Breast Cancer Deadline 2020 initiative. The deadline: January 1, 2020. The goal: be able to prevent new breast cancers and to prevent metastasis by that date. The means: change the conversation, focus the research, and think outside the same pink box.

Deadline 2020 was the focus of this year's NBCC Advocacy Conference, which was held in Washington D.C. on April 30 to May 2. Nearly 800 women and men from every state and several foreign countries attended the conference to learn more about current knowledge, current research, and how we can work with researchers, government, the media, the community and other advocates to make this happen.

As it does every year, NBCC offers break-out sessions for people at every level. Are you new to breast cancer advocacy? Listen to Dr. Susan Love explain why breast cancer is not one disease. New to advocacy in general? Learn how to expand your advocacy network. Spend all day on Facebook and Twitter? Learn how to use those networking sites to advance education. Feel like you already know what's going on? Attend a break-out session where a researcher is presenting preliminary results of his or her current research.

In addition to the break-out sessions, NBCC had several plenary sessions that were focused on Deadline 2020–the avenues that will be pursued, the barriers to getting there, and how to deal with those barriers.
Most interesting to me was the session about thinking outside the box. We are used to hearing from biologists and chemists when we discuss breast cancer. But how about an astrobiologist? Or a physicist? We learned a little (very little!!) about fluid dynamics, which deals with the physics of particles in fluids, and the different approaches a physicist will take to solve a problem. Why did this matter to a room full of breast cancer advocates? Because circulating tumor cells are simply particles (cells) in a fluid (either blood or lymph). Maybe there is something to be learned from physics and applied to cancer biology. We won't know if we never ask!!

Is the conference all work? No way. There's a room full of silent auction items, plenty of time for networking, and a dance party on the last night. To find out more about this year's conference and next years, check out www.breastcancerdeadline2020.org.




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